National

New high school textbooks parrot Abe's foreign, defense policies

Kyodo

New textbooks authorized for use in Japanese high schools from April 2018 contain more descriptions on the foreign and defense policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, including the ability to engage in collective self-defense, the education ministry disclosed in the results of its latest textbook screening Friday.

The textbooks are primarily for second-year high school students. Many of them explain the grounds for engaging in collective self-defense — or coming to the aid of an ally under attack —under the divisive 2015 security laws.

As for Japan’s territorial disputes with other countries, all eight civics texts screened say that the Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan, called Dokdo by South Korea, and the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea are an “inherent part” of Japanese territory.

Gleaned from the results is an increasing tendency for textbooks to toe the government line on defense, territorial and historical issues, based on the ministry’s screening criteria and related guidelines amended in January 2014.

For example, the ministry said a textbook touching on the number of victims in the 1937 Rape of Nanking and the figure for Koreans killed in the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake that “It fails to clarify there is no commonly accepted theory” and the sentence “The number (of victims) is not settled” was added.

As for explanations on postwar compensation, a government view was added that says, “It has been settled among countries.”

Following the disclosure, South Korea filed a diplomatic protest, disputing Tokyo’s claim to the pair of South Korean-controlled islets described in the textbooks and calling for an “immediate correction.” Seoul calls them Dokdo.

There was no immediate response from China or Taiwan over the Senkakus. Both claim them, calling them Diaoyu and Tiaoyutai, respectively.

Many of the textbooks meanwhile mentioned the word ijime (bullying), amid widespread media reports about the bullying of children forced to flee Fukushima Prefecture during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.

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