Children over the age of 3 should be "familiar" with the national flag and the national anthem, according to draft new guidelines for operating public and private nursery schools.
The guidelines, published on Tuesday by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, said nursery schools should be encouraged to ensure children under their care become “familiar with the national flag through activities held in and out of nursery schools.”
The report also stressed the importance of familiarizing children with the Kimigayo national anthem as well as traditional events and activities.
The guidelines offer recommendations for operating nursery schools, “with no necessary penalties,” said ministry official Kenta Shizume, adding that a nursery school serves both child care and educational functions.
The Hinomaru national flag, for example, could be displayed along with flags from other countries when schools hold sports days, Shizume said.
The same draft guideline on the national flag and national anthem was found in a draft revision of school curriculum guidelines for kindergartens published the same day by the education ministry.
With the launch of the program Comprehensive Support System for Children and Child-rearing in 2015, the government is making efforts to match the educational curricula of nursery schools and kindergartens.
Susumu Kutsuzawa of the education ministry said it was the first time the kindergarten guidelines mention the national anthem. He added that children will not be forced to sing the national anthem, but the guidelines highlight that school children might be taken to activities, such as a sporting events, that feature the song.
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