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指導要領解説書 「竹島」に触れないのは問題だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 28, 2009)
Teaching manual mustn't avoid Takeshima dispute
指導要領解説書 「竹島」に触れないのは問題だ(12月28日付・読売社説)

The generations who will forge this nation's future must be accurately taught about its territories and history.

However, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has made no reference to the Takeshima islets--which South Korea claims as its sovereign territory, an assertion Japan disputes--in an instruction manual containing its new high school curriculum guidelines on geography A and geography B set to come into effect in the 2013 academic year. This omission is extremely questionable.

Japan established sovereignty over the Takeshima islets no later than the mid-17th century--in the early Edo period (1603-1867).
In 1905, the islets were placed under the jurisdiction of Shimane Prefecture following approval by the cabinet.

However, South Korea has been occupying the islets unlawfully since 1952, when Seoul unilaterally drew the Syngman Rhee Line--a boundary laid down by then South Korean President Syngman Rhee in the Sea of Japan claiming fishing rights in the area--a move made in defiance of international law.

This country's official stance on the islets is that Takeshima has always been an integral part of the nation's territory, a view backed historically and by international law.

In current high school textbooks, six authorized textbooks for geography A and five books for geography B state there is a sovereignty dispute with South Korea over the Takeshima islets, and that they are an integral part of Japan.


1 step backward

In July last year, the education ministry added for the first time the teaching of Japan's stance on the Takeshima islets to a teaching manual for middle school curriculum guidelines for social studies, which will take effect in the 2012 academic year.

But the teaching manual in question does not clarify that the territorial dispute involves the Takeshima islets. It simply says, "Following up on what is taught in middle school, we should handle this issue accurately, based upon our country's rightful assertions, and help students deepen their understanding."

The education ministry says the government's stance--that the Takeshima islets are an integral part of the nation--remains unchanged. If so, the ministry should state this clearly. It makes no sense that what is taught about the Takeshima dispute at high school level is a step backward from what is taught at middle school level, despite high school being a place to develop what has been studied at middle school.


Consideration for S. Korea

Unlike the curriculum guidelines, the teaching manual comes with no legal obligation to be implemented. However, it will be a lodestar both for textbook publishers and teachers preparing for classes. The manual in question has the potential to generate misunderstanding among textbook publishers and teachers and cause them to disregard the Takeshima dispute.

Sources said Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama made the final decision that the new manual should not mention the Takeshima issue.

When he was in the opposition camp, Hatoyama said, "It's natural to clearly state [the Takeshima issue]" when the issue was included in a teaching manual for middle school curriculum guidelines for social studies, which drew a series of harsh protests from South Korea. It is doubtful his latest decision could be squared with his previous remark.

Observers said the absence of any mention of the Takeshima issue resulted from the government's consideration for South Korean ties, as next year will mark the 100th anniversary of Japan's annexation of Korea.

Territorial issues and how to teach them at schools form an important theme that touches on the fundamentals of nationhood. South Korea is a valuable neighbor, but fundamental truths must not be distorted due to diplomatic considerations.

It will not be easy to resolve the territorial dispute over the Takeshima islets. For this reason, an unstinting effort must be made to educate people who will in the future help the public fully understand the issue as well as convey Japan's stance to the international community.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 28, 2009)
(2009年12月28日01時22分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-12-28 11:05 | 英字新聞

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