The Abe administration is considering describing the Senkaku Islands, considered part of Okinawa, and the Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan as integral parts of the country in instruction manuals for school curriculum guidelines, education minister Hakubun Shimomura said.
China claims the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands as its own, and South Korea effectively controls the Takeshima outcroppings, which it calls Dokdo.
The instruction manuals are usually upgraded every decade or so.
The existing instruction manuals were released in 2008 for elementary and junior high school teachers and in 2009 for high school teachers.
It is unusual for the ministry to revise the manuals before the revision of school curriculum guidelines.
Shimomura said at a news conference Tuesday that it is extremely important for children, “who are the future of Japan,” to correctly understand the nation’s territory .
In social studies for junior high school students, the existing instruction manual refers to Takeshima, which Japan considers part of Shimane Prefecture, and the Russian-held islands northwest of Hokkaido, but Takeshima is not mentioned in the manual for high schools.
The Senkaku Islands are not referred to in the manuals for junior high schools or high schools.
When Takeshima was described as Japanese territory in the junior high school manual for social studies in 2008, there was a strong backlash from South Korea, which temporarily recalled its ambassador.
China and South Korea have already reacted to media reports about the administration’s current plan, but Shimomura said any protest is inappropriate because it is normal for an independent nation to teach children about their country’s territory.
If the instruction manuals are revised, the government will explain the revision to neighboring countries through diplomatic channels, he said.