Japan to extend 'territorial education'

Updated: 2014-02-07 00:02

By ZHANG YUNBI in Beijing and CAI HONG in Tokyo (China Daily)

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Japanese Cabinet members have publicly confirmed that Tokyo will expand "territorial education" regarding disputed islands to include elementary schools.

Hakubun Shimomura, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, said during a Wednesday committee meeting of Japan's upper house that changes will be made in relevant teaching guidelines after appropriate discussions.

Japanese media said the revision plans include the Japanese government's spin on China's Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea and the disputed islands that Seoul calls Dokdo and Tokyo calls Takeshima.

Shinzo Abe, Japan's hawkish prime minister, echoed Shimomura by supporting the ministry's January decision to clearly state Japan's territorial claims over the disputed islands in the teaching guidelines for junior and senior schools in Japan.

"When the children are arguing overseas, it is important that they have the capability of making a clear presentation of Japan's beliefs," Abe said.

Liu Jiangyong, an expert on Japanese studies and the deputy dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, said Abe is attempting to brainwash the younger Japanese generation by modifying textbooks, a controversial practice that has angered China and South Korea in past decades.

On Jan 28, Beijing and Seoul strongly condemned Tokyo's decision to make Japan's claim to the islands part of the teaching manuals for Japanese high school teachers.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing lodged a serious objection and urged Tokyo to "educate the younger generation with a correct outlook on history".

The new teaching manuals cover textbooks for junior high school social studies and senior high school geography, history and civics classes, Japan's Kyodo news agency said.

South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, issued a statement protesting Japan's renewed claim to the islands and urged Japan to immediately retract the revision.

Zhou Yongsheng, a professor on Japanese studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said the younger generation in Japan has little understanding of Japan's wartime deeds because of the existing history education system, and textbook revisions — if shaped by Japanese right-wing thinking — will only make things worse.

"A wider rift may emerge among the younger generations in China, Japan and South Korea if the textbooks are completely rewritten," Zhou said.

Contact the writers at zhangyunbi@chinadaily.com.cn and caihong@chinadaily.com.cn