Militarism in Japanese School Songs

  • Ury Eppstein


Shōka, the Japanese term for School Song, is an innovation of the early Meiji Period. Both, the term and the music genre, had become a necessity following the promulgation of the Education Law in 1872 which stipulated that music had to be an obligatory subject in elementary and secondary schools. Its implementation had to be postponed, however, because in traditional Japanese music there were no songs with easily singable melodies and understandable texts suitable for school children. Such songs had, therefore, to be commissioned, composed or authorized by a department of the Education Ministry, called “Music Investigation Committee” (Ongaku Torishirabe Gakari), created especially for this purpose.