Fifth-, sixth-graders to learn about Senkaku, Takeshima controversies starting in 2015

Isle disputes to make schoolbooks

Kyodo, JIJI

Japan’s territorial disputes with China and South Korea over small islets will be mentioned in all social studies textbooks for elementary school students from the next academic year starting in April 2015, the education ministry said Friday.

They will refer to the disputes over the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, claimed by China as Diaoyu, and the Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan which are controlled by South Korea, which calls them Dokdo, according to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

The changes have been made in textbooks to be published by four publishers for fifth- and sixth-graders, the ministry said.

Reflecting the government’s view, a textbook for fifth-graders refers to the Takeshima islets for the first time as “integral parts of Japanese territory” illegally occupied by South Korea, while another textbook says authorities have lodged protests against the Chinese government as Chinese vessels are operating illegally in waters near the Senkakus.

The references were revealed when the ministry announced the outcomes of its screening of elementary school textbooks to be used for the next academic year.

Currently, only one textbook for fifth-graders mentions the two island groups by name.

In January, the ministry revised its teaching manuals for junior and senior high schools to describe the Senkaku Islands and Takeshima islets as “integral parts of Japanese territory,” triggering sharp protests from China and South Korea.

The change in the manuals follows the revision of textbook screening guidelines to better reflect the government’s view on territorial issues.

Meanwhile, the ministry said from the next academic year more elementary school textbooks will refer to the triple disasters that devastated parts of the Tohoku region in March 2011.

The deadly earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant accident will be mentioned in textbooks for all subjects, including science as well as health and physical education, with more focus on disaster prevention.

On the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power complex, a social studies textbook for sixth-graders notes, “Harmful radioactive materials were emitted in wide areas, forcing many people to evacuate.”

Reflecting the ministry’s new curriculum guidelines, which call for increases in study content and class hours, elementary school textbooks set to come into use from fiscal 2015 in general grew thicker.