Disputed isles, quake appear in Japanese schoolbooks

Disputed isles, quake appear in Japanese schoolbooks
A set of remote islands called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese is seen on August 10, 2012.

Some new social studies textbooks and maps for primary schools to be used from spring next year clearly state that the Takeshima islets in Shimane Prefecture and the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture are "territories inherent to Japan," according to the education ministry, which announced Friday the results of the screening of primary school textbooks for the next academic year.

This is the first time for primary school textbooks to carry clear descriptions that the islands are Japanese inherent territories.

Meanwhile, all social studies textbooks for fifth and sixth grades have detailed descriptions of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Some also include descriptions of the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

All 139 textbooks in nine subjects submitted by publishers passed the textbook screening by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, the ministry said.

The screening system, which began in 1947, aims at checking such things as whether textbooks follow the government's curriculum guidelines.

Each year, one of four groups of textbooks are screened: those for primary school and the third year of high school, for middle school, for the first year of high school, and for the second year of high school. Therefore, textbooks are reviewed every four years in principle.

Of 14 social studies textbooks and maps, seven textbooks for the fifth and sixth grades clearly state that Takeshima and the Senkaku Islands are the nation's territories or territories inherent to Japan. They explain the current status of these islands using pictures and maps.

In January, the ministry revised the national curriculum guidelines' instruction manuals for middle and high school social studies to include an expression that these islands "constitute inherent parts of our nation's territory."

The revision will be reflected in middle school textbooks to be used from the 2016 academic year and in high school textbooks from the 2017 academic year.

Currently, only one primary school textbook, for the fifth grade, has descriptions including "South Korea is illegally occupying Takeshima." However, publishers this time have adopted detailed descriptions in primary school textbooks prior to middle and high school textbooks, with some firms saying that the public's interest in the issues is high as they make news headlines quite often.

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