In 2002, the Central Education Council published a report entitled “Improvement of children's physical fitness.” The report pointed out that changes in the social environment and lifestyles in recent years had influenced children's physical fitness and movement skills, and that a “comprehensive policy” addressing various aspects was essential for tackling this problem. On the basis of this report, the Ministry of Education and local boards of education are currently undertaking various projects; however, a number of gaps still remain between the findings of the report and what is actually being done to address this issue. The present paper examines the local political issues that have led to differences between the practices of local educational governments and the recommendations of the report by focusing on practices in the Tokyo metropolitan area and Osaka Prefecture after publication of the report. This study revealed that the local governments had been strongly influenced by the results of physical fitness tests in comparison with other districts, counter to the comprehensive policy suggested by the report. This suggests that one of the reasons for the existing gap is the implicit demand for measurable results based on strong promotion of the evaluation system stipulated by the current educational policy. The results also show that most projects to improve children's physical fitness have been undertaken by schools, despite the fact that almost no budget has been allocated for this purpose, thus forcing schools to bear the burden and responsibility alone. Furthermore, it is also evident that competitive sports are frequently used to promote an active lifestyle, even in elementary and junior high schools. In view of the numerous practices aiming to improve performance through sports club activities and competitive sports events, such as long-distance relays for children and Olympic education, it appears that the government in fact has a hidden agenda to promote sports and to improve athletic performance behind the facade of children's fitness as a “social issue.”
Medical technology has made remarkable advances in recent years. On the one hand, these advances have the benefit of contributing to the happiness of humankind; on the other hand, they can raise various ethical and social issues, precisely because they are applied to individual humans. One such issue is enhancement technology, which can be used not only for the purpose of treating disease, but also for improving or enhancing the body or mind; humans themselves can become subject to alterations without any medical purpose. Body enhancement used to improve athletic performance is of particular concern in competitive sports. In this study, body enhancement was considered to be an act of pursuing a better-performing body, and examined the issues related to “better-ness” in this context from an ethical viewpoint. Specifically, I (1) elucidate the meaning of the word “better-ness” within the phrase “better performing” and (2) examine whether the act of pursuing a body that is “better” is an act of overall human betterment by engaging in an ethical discussion of its pros and cons. I use the principle of act described in Kant's practical philosophy as a framework for discussion. With regard to (1), I conclude that the meaning of “better” in the context of body enhancement in competitive sports is defined by theoretical (logical) judgment, and not by moral judgment. With regard to (2), I describe what an unacceptable act is according to Kant's Formula of the End in Itself. I also present the limits of this study, and point out the need to clarify in future studies the concept of what comprises human nature.