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  Okay, this is kinda scary
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Author Topic: Okay, this is kinda scary  (Read 872 times)
12th Doctor
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« on: July 26, 2007, 12:51:45 am »


For Japan's aspiring elite, a spartan education by Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura
Wed Jul 25, 9:34 AM ET

CHIGASAKI, Japan (AFP) - At 5 a.m. sharp the tinny speaker on the belfry of the Matsush**ta Institute wheezes out a tune but the students who have gathered in the courtyard have already wiped the sleep from their eyes.

"One! Two! Three!" shouts their master as they engage in a series of robust stretches and backbends.

The exercises may be set to a feeble speaker, but the instructors in charge hope this is the education of the future for Japan's elite.

Set on a quiet seashore near Tokyo, the Matsush**ta Institute of Government and Management seeks to produce a new breed of politicians.

It sees the current crop of leaders as too bogged down in theoretical ideas learned at Japan's elite universities which were designed on Western models.

Students here follow an austere routine rooted in ancient Japanese practices bordering on monasticism, which they say will give them the inner strength and mental stability essential to become modern leaders.

Established in 1979 by Konosuke Matsush**ta, founder of electronics giant Matsush**ta Electric Industrial Co which owns the Panasonic brand, the school has fewer than 100 students at any one time studying it three-year course.

It has produced two Cabinet ministers and 60 members of parliament as well as journalists, entrepreneurs and academics.

The effects of the education are plainly visible in student Noriko Minagawa, 28, who speaks clearly and confidently about herself, a far cry from the humble and almost apologetic attitude most Japanese take.

"I see myself as minister of education one day," she said.

A former teacher, Minagawa applied to Matsush**ta after being shocked by the suicides of two of her students.

"I would like to change the school environment so that teachers can detect bullying earlier and prevent student suicides," she said.

The school, which is self-financed without corporate donations, covers all costs and allows students to freely and independently specialise in areas of study of their choice.

It says it is open to scholars of divergent ideas, but they are united by their belief in strict self-discipline, passionate patriotism and a loathing for wasteful government spending.

Student Yutaka Kumagai, 32, said he would like to reinvigorate the economy of his home region in Japan's north by developing an aerospace industry to take over from the flagging agricultural sector.

"Here we discuss with our friends what we'd like to do for Japan. We build relationships here," he said.

After their morning calisthenics, the students spend 40 minutes sweeping the courtyard, the grating of their bamboo broomsticks stirring the quiet morning.

"How can we clean Japan if we cannot even sweep around us?" asked Kiyoshi Seki, the institute's president. "That is why we encourage our students to sweep every day, which surprises them at first. From this can we start the cleanup" of Japan's political system.

For Seki, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is the embodiment of typical Japanese politics.

The conservative leader, who faces tough elections on July 29 amid sagging popularity, is a third-generation politician whose grandfather was also a premier.

"Our students are starting to break this wall. We want them to engage with citizens, listening actively and urging them to get out and vote because the majority of Japanese are apathetic about politics," Seki said.

Students at Matsush**ta range in age from their mid-20s to mid-30s, the ripe age group to make changes.

Unlike the often boisterous atmosphere on Japanese university campuses, here at Matsush**ta students spend hours in silence wearing the traditional black kimonos of scholars, diligently brushing Chinese characters on sheet after sheet of paper.

Other lessons in ritual include tea ceremony and kendo, traditional Japanese fencing using long bamboo rods.

Every year each incoming class walks 100 kilometres (62 miles) in 24 hours so that students can learn to be mentally and physically strong.

"Spirituality is very important to nurture the leaders of the 21st century," Seki said.

If there is one core value at the institute it is a loathing of wasteful spending, an idea cherished by the founder, whose management practices are as legendary in Japan as Henry Ford's are in the United States.

"Politics are a kind of management," Seki said.

Matsush**ta's portraits and calligraphy hang conspicuously on the walls, overlooking students while they faithfully begin each morning shouting his five basic principles: realize heartfelt ambition; have a spirit of independence and self-reliance; learn from all things; be on the cutting edge of creative innovation; and have a deep-felt spirit of gratitude and cooperation.

Like his students, Seki does not hide his ambitious goals.

"We expect one of our students to become prime minister of Japan in 10 years after the old ideas of the old bureaucrats die out," Seki declared.
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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2007, 12:56:21 am »

Those crazy Japanese, what will they come up with next?
Hatman 🍁
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2007, 01:18:39 am »

I love how the censor censors the name of the place
Concerned Citizen
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2007, 04:15:23 am »

Yes, strange indeed.

I love how the censor censors the name of the place

Yeah, I loved that too. Made the story unintentionally funny. Tongue Grin
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