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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 April 12 - 18  > Under Imperial Rescript on Education wives were subordinate to husbands
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2017 April 12 - 18 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Under Imperial Rescript on Education wives were subordinate to husbands

April 17, 2017
Defense Minister Inada Tomomi often says, “The spirit of the Imperial Rescript on Education should be revived.” She also justified the prewar teachings at a press conference on April 11, “It had certain values which are still pertinent today.” However, “marital accord” as the edict instructed does not mean “good conjugal harmony”.

In the following year of the 1890 promulgation of the Imperial Rescript on Education, the former Ministry of Education under the Meiji Government compiled commentaries on the imperial decree, called Chokugo Engi. It consisted of instruction manuals for teachers to teach the contents of the Emperor’s message to students.

According to this teachers’ guide, “marital accord” meant, “A good husband gives his wife a caress to gain her favor. A good wife obeys her husband and always works to not unduly express her own will.”

The teaching manuals also state, “Wives are essentially physically fragile and many wives cannot endure physical labor. A good husband takes pity and helps her with his strength. When she is in danger, he should protect her. In many cases, wives do not come up to the husbands’ shoulder in terms of knowledge and discretion. Therefore, a good wife submits herself to her husband and remains faithful to him as much as possible as long as he does not ask unreasonable things or commits barbarous things. A good wife does not turn her back to the husband without reflection and shares all his joys and sorrows at all times.”

Under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan (Meiji Constitution), women had no rights and were forced to defer to the father and the husband. The Meiji government’s interpretation of “marital accord” with reference to the imperial edict manuals was actually as follows: Wives should not follow their own will; their knowledge and discretion fall short of their husbands; and all wives should never challenge but abide by what their husbands decide.

Such values are obviously not applicable today. After WWII, the Japanese parliament in both the upper and lower chambers abolished the prewar Imperial Rescript on Education. Japan chose to abide by the rights enshrined in the postwar Constitution and the Fundamental Law of Education.

DM Inada who did not hesitate to claim, “The Imperial Rescript on Education had good points,” lacks the qualification to be a Cabinet minister.

Past related articles:
> JCP Koike slams Abe gov’t for approving use of prewar militaristic rescript in schools [April 4, 2017]
> DM Inada calls for revival of wartime Imperial Rescript on Education [March 9 & 10, 2017]
> What was the prewar Imperial Rescript on Education? [June 16, 2014]
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