The education ministry announced Tuesday that it has instructed junior high and high school teachers to use newly revised manuals to teach their students that the Senkaku Islands and Takeshima islets are “integral parts of Japanese territory.”
“It is natural for the state to teach properly about (Japanese) territory,” education minister Hakubun Shimomura said.
“With the cooperation of our Foreign Ministry, we will explain the country’s position to our neighbors,” Shimomura said of the move, which is in line with the stance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry swiftly summoned Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho and demanded that the materials be withdrawn.
The Japanese government “laid groundless claims again over Dokdo, which historically, geographically and by international law belong to South Korea,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea are claimed by China, which calls them Diaoyu, while the Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan are controlled by South Korea under the name Dokdo.
Shimomura, who heads the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, also called for revising the nation’s curriculum guidelines to explicitly mention the Senkakus and Takeshima.
While the manuals, which are designed as teaching guidelines, influence what’s taught in the classroom, they are not, like the curriculum guidelines, legally binding.
The ministry said it would immediately notify school boards about the revision of the manuals, which will also contain the government’s official position regarding territorial issues.
The timing of the revision is unusual. Manuals are usually revised every 10 years, when curriculum guidelines are amended. The next wholesale revision is slated for fiscal 2016.
The new manuals supplement texts for junior high school social studies and high school geography, history and civics classes.
Some of the textbooks already reflect the government’s stance that the pair of islets known in Japan as Takeshima are illegally occupied by South Korea and that there is no territorial issue regarding the Senkakus.
Earlier this month textbook screening guidelines were revised to better reflect the government’s view on territorial issues. The new manuals will be applied to the screening of junior high school textbooks, which will be conducted this year.
The current manuals instruct teachers merely to touch on the differing Japanese and South Korean positions on Takeshima, and not to mention the Senkakus.
As Bessho’s car headed to the South Korean Foreign Ministry, a South Korean man rushed toward his vehicle to protest Japan’s renewed claim in the new teaching manuals. The man was seized by police before he could reach the envoy’s vehicle.