Japan may revise guidelines for middle and high school textbooks to describe the South Korean islets of Dokdo as the country’s “indigenous territory,” Japanese media reported Saturday.
Tokyo’s education ministry is reportedly considering the revision of the Course of Study ― a guideline for creating textbooks used in middle and high schools ― to reflect the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s viewpoint and stance on territorial issues. It is not mandatory for textbook authors to follow the manual, although it is customary to follow its guidelines.
The current high school teaching manual notes historical disputes with surrounding countries, but stops short of mentioning Dokdo by name.
Japan’s hawkish leader Shinzo Abe, however, had called for school textbooks to adopt a more “patriotic” tone.
The new manuals for both middle and high schools will state that Dokdo islets are an “integral part of Japan,” along with a set of islets in the East China Sea known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. The East China Sea islets are claimed by China, Taiwan and Japan.
Japan’s education ministry is hoping the new manual will be applied to textbooks as early as the 2016 school year.
The revision, if carried out, is unusual because the manual is customarily amended once every 10 years. The manuals for middle and high schools underwent amendments in 2008 and 2010, respectively.
The Foreign Ministry on Sunday summoned a diplomat from the Japanese embassy in Seoul to verify the reports on the teaching manual.
The ministry said that if the report is true, Japan should immediately abandon plans to revise the manual, and warned that such an action could cause serious repercussions for the relationship between the two nations.
When the 2008 version of the manual described Dokdo as Japanese territory for the first time, South Korea responded by recalling its then-Ambassador to Japan Kwon Chul-hyun.
Taiwan announced its “serious concern” over Japan’s plan and said the unilateral move “does not contribute” to the regional stability. South Korea has yet to announce an official response.
Amid territorial and historical rows among the Northeast Asian neighbors, some lawmakers from South Korea and Japan had called for their governments and China to produce joint history textbooks.
By Yoon Min-sik and news reports