South Korea‘s Education Ministry revealed on Tuesday that starting this year it would begin implementing a requirement that schoolchildren be taught about the importance of the Dokdo Islands, as well the country’s ownership of the disputed territory. It will be mandatory that all schools provide at least 10 hours worth of class time per year on “the importance of Dokdo,” a pair of islands also claimed by Japan, and known as Takeshima.
The territory, located in the Sea of Japan, is at the center of decades-long historical tensions between Seoul and Tokyo. This announcement of making the islands required school curriculum is surely a response to a yearly rally held in Japan last week in order to promote the country’s claims. While South Korea has regularly condemned the February 22nd event, held in Shimane Prefecture, this year’s was attended by a number of Tokyo lawmakers and, for the first time, a high-ranking member of the ruling government. Seoul issued repeated warnings for the event to be called off, and when it wasn’t, hundreds protested outside the Japanese Embassy. One man even went so far as to throw a container of his own feces over the fence.
A spokesman for South Korea’s Education Ministry said that the Dokdo classes were meant to counter what is seen as a growing “disinformation campaign” from Tokyo. While many schools were already teaching about the islands, the ministry felt it was necessary to require a specific number of hours. In addition, Thursday will see the opening of a government-funded education center, called the “Dokdo School,” in the city of Cheonan, in order to offer the islet’s historical background to families and schoolchildren.
Meanwhile, small business and shop owners in the country are calling for organized boycotts of all Japanese goods, including items like cigarettes and alcohol. A spokesman for a nation-wide shop owner’s alliance says the boycott would teach Japan that its claims over Takeshima are “ridiculous.”[via Gulf News]