Publishers of school textbooks may one day no longer have to give so-called special consideration to neighboring parts of Asia when describing historical events.
The education ministry will start discussing revising this guideline, which publishers of textbooks used from elementary to high school must follow, sources close to the ministry said.
Stricter vetting of social studies textbooks began in 1982 after China and South Korea objected strongly to Japanese high school history textbooks the previous year that began referring to Japan’s past “invasions” in Asia as “advancements.”
To counter anticipated criticism of the revision by the two countries, both of which Japan occupied, the scope of “giving consideration” may be expanded from Asian neighbors to the “global community,” according to the sources.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology is expected to start a detailed study of the issue, the sources said.
Many Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers believe the current guidelines result in “masochistic” or “self-condemning” views of history in textbooks.
During the campaign for the general election in December, the LDP pledged to revise the guidelines so students can use textbooks that “allow them to be proud of traditional culture.”
Although education minister Hirofumi Shimomura has said it is “not a subject that we should work on immediately,” officials at the ministry say discussions on the possible revision could start soon after the Upper House election in July, in time for the fiscal 2014 textbook screening.
Even after the 1982 guideline, China and South Korea repeatedly criticized the wording of some history textbooks in the screening process, claiming they were glorifying past aggression. In 2001, a junior high school textbook written by a group of Japanese nationalists invited strong criticism from the two countries.
Recently, Japan’s relations with China and South Korea have sunk to new lows amid disputes over islets.
All sides have made attempts at mending ties. Last week, Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of LDP coalition partner New Komeito, met with China’s new leader, Xi Jinping. Former Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga of the LDP visited incoming South Korean President Park Geun Hye as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s special envoy earlier this month.