Education minister Hakubun Shimomura on Friday ordered the board of education in Taketomi, Okinawa Prefecture, to adopt a junior high school social studies textbook known for its conservative views, after the town chose another book in defiance of a regional council.
It is the first time the central government has issued such an order to a municipal government.
“It is the right thing for a law-governed nation to rectify an illegal situation,” Shimomura told a news conference.
Under the law on the free distribution of textbooks for compulsory education, schools in a district overseen by a prefectural board of education are obliged to use the same textbooks, even though there are no penalties for violators.
In August 2011, the regional textbook adoption council for the Yaeyama district, consisting of the Okinawa town of Taketomi, city of Ishigaki and town of Yonaguni chose a civics textbook published by Ikuhosha Publishing Inc.
The municipal governments of Ishigaki and Yonaguni followed the council’s decision to use the conservative textbook in their junior high schools, but Taketomi rejected the book, saying it does not sufficiently deal with Okinawa’s burden in hosting U.S. bases.
Taketomi instead selected a textbook published by Tokyo Shoseki Co. that is considered less conservative.
As this textbook is not subject to free distribution, the town collected donations to buy copies and give them to students for free.
Last October, the education ministry instructed the Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education to issue a corrective order to Taketomi over the adoption of the textbook, but the board has yet to take any action.