THE IMPERIAL RESCRIPT ON EDUCATION was probably the most widely known document of pre-war Japan. With its stress on those of the Confucian virtues - loyalty and filial piety - which the Japanese have traditionally chosen to emphasize, and on the infallibility of the Emperor as the source of all virtue, it provided a moral justification for the existing authoritarian social and political structure. Read on important school occasions in an atmosphere of great solemnity which gave it a scriptural sanctity, it was used, together with the ethics course! in the school curriculum, as a means of fostering the desired moral and political attitudes among the people. Indeed, after the initial heyday of utilitarianism in the 1870s, the moral training afforded by these means was generally held by Japanese educators and politicians alike to be the most important function of the national education system.