• JIJI, Kyodo


The education ministry said Tuesday it had completed its first screening of new textbooks under revised teaching guidelines that are planned to be fully implemented from April 2021, approving 106 textbooks in 10 subjects.

The average number of pages for a batch of textbooks approved to be used by junior high school students from fiscal 2021 rose 7.6 percent from that of current textbooks, the ministry said.

At time of application, the total number of textbook pages exceeded 11,000 in A5 format.

The new teaching guidelines place importance on active learning methods, in which students learn proactively through debates and other learning activities, in order to nurture their intellectual ability to find and resolve problems themselves.

For this purpose, many of the new textbooks present learning challenges at the beginnings of chapters and subchapters, and encourage students to have debates in groups after the end of the sections to deepen their understanding.

The use of QR codes and web URLs, which was approved for the first time in last fiscal year’s screening of elementary school textbooks, is featured in many of the new junior high school textbooks. They have been used for features including English pronunciations by native speakers and science experiment videos.

For social studies, the new teaching guidelines clearly describe the Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan and the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea as part of Japan’s inherent territory, as is the case with references to four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido. The Takeshima islets are under the effective control of South Korea, where they are called Dokdo, while China claims the Senkaku Islands, calling them Diaoyu.

South Korea and China have protested the approval of the new textbooks. The description for the islands is already included in the commentary for the current teaching guidelines, and is already reflected in current textbooks, so no opinions were made on this topic during the latest screening.

Of 110 textbooks that underwent ministry screening, a total of four — in the fields of history, technology and home economics — were rejected.

Five textbooks for Japanese and English were withdrawn by textbook publishers before the outcome of the screening was announced.