Beginning next school year, Japanese social studies textbooks for elementary students will reflect for the first time islets that are under dispute with China and South Korea. According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the textbooks will mention the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, claimed by China as Diaoyu and the Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan, controlled by South Korea. The changes will be published in textbooks of fifth and sixth graders.
The new books will describe the Takeshima islets as “integral parts of Japanese territory” illegally seized by South Korea. The revision will reflect the Japanese government’s stance on the disputes for the first time. Presently, only one textbook for fifth graders includes the Takeshima and Senkaku Islands. Junior and senior high school textbooks have already gone ahead with the revision to include the two as “integral parts of Japanese territory” early this January, which earned protests from China and South Korea.
Another revision in elementary textbooks for next school year will refer to the triple disaster that hit the country in March 2011. The Great East Japan earthquake, which triggered the tsunami and activated the nuclear plant accident in Fukushima, will be mentioned in all subjects, centering on disaster prevention. A sixth grade social studies textbook will include notes on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster saying, “Harmful radioactive materials were emitted in wide areas, forcing many people to evacuate.”