Japan's educational system has undergone a series of reforms over the past decade or so. Through these reforms, the ruling party has strengthened the involvement of the government and local authorities in education. At the same time, there has been a growing tendency for teachers to avoid taking up political issues in classrooms, in order to comply with the idea of political neutrality in education. This article attempts to extract the present-day meaning of development education and its implications for citizenship education by critically examining certain aspects of recent Japanese educational policy. Specifically, while pointing out that government-directed citizenship education has become increasingly 'patriotic', the article reaffirms that development education is a kind of political education. Finally, the article argues that development education should be expanded to democratic citizenship education to nurture active citizens with global perspectives.