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A flash mark used to indicate territorial disputes was recently removed from this high school textbook map during an education ministry screening, bolstering Japan’s claim to the Senkaku islets –
, which it controls.

The ministry ordered revisions to most references made to two groups of islets at the center of territorial disputes — the uninhabited, Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands that China and Taiwan also claim, and the Takeshima islets controlled by South Korea, which calls them Dokdo.

It also requested modifications to references on the death toll in the 1937 Nanjing Massacre and had “official” deleted from a caption on the nature of a visit to Tokyo’s war-related Yasukuni Shrine by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Responding to criticism that there has been a decline in student academic ability, the textbooks had more pages than last year’s in the fields of Japanese, geography and history, civics, mathematics, science and foreign languages.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry approved all 306 manuscripts submitted. The history, geography and civics books, mainly for sophomores, will be available next spring.

The ministry asked for changes to 26 of the 40 references on the Senkaku islets, which are known as Daioyu by China, and Takeshima, the officials said.

On Dokdo, which Japan refers to as Takeshima, one textbook draft originally claimed sovereignty is being “negotiated” with Seoul. It was changed at the ministry’s request to say the islets belong to Shimane Prefecture and South Korea also claims them.

The negotiation reference is already in a previously approved text, but the officials said the ministry asked for it to be changed this year because the new passage was longer than before, so the government reckoned it had become more important to present the issue more “accurately.”

Most of the history, geography and civics textbooks include passages about the disputed islands.

On the Senkakus, the ministry also asked that the texts claim they are Japanese territory. The islets are under the jurisdiction of Okinawa.

Besides China, they are also claimed by Taiwan, which refers to them as Tiaoyutai.

On the Nanjing Massacre, the ministry asked that references to the death toll be made to present all possible views to “make it balanced.”

One world history manuscript said, “The number of victims is said to be 200,000 or more, but China has the figure as 300,000 or more.”

That was changed at the ministry’s request to say: “The number of victims is said to be 200,000 or more, but there are other theories as to the figure. China puts the figure at 300,000 or more.”

On Koizumi’s contentious Yasukuni visits, during which he always signs the guest register with his title, one text draft on modern society had a photo of him paying homage at the shrine with a caption calling the visit “official,” a term that was ordered struck.