Revised textbooks describe disputed islands as Japanese territory

By James Griffiths, January 29, 2014

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Japan's education ministry has announced a revision to practice manuals for school curriculum guidelines to describe the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands as "integral parts of Japan's territory". 

The practice manuals are used by teachers in junior high school and above to decide how to instruct students. 

"As we are striving to develop human resources who can do well globally, it is only natural to teach students about our territories in a correct manner," education minister Hakubun Shimomura said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The uninhabited Diaoyu islands (called Senkaku in Japan) in the East China Sea are de facto Japanese territory but are claimed by both China and Taiwan. In November 2013, China declared an Air Defense Zone over the island chain, causing international uproar and leading to frantic politicking from Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to win support for his country's claim from other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members

The revisions to the practice manuals also cover the Takeshima/Dokdo islets (or the "Liancourt Rocks" if you want to annoy all parties), which are de facto controlled by South Korea. 

"[The revision] is a problem of a different dimension from keeping friendly relations with neighboring countries," Shimomura said at the news conference. "We will provide polite explanations for both China and South Korea."

The new manuals also describe the Northern Territories off the coast of Hokkaido, seized by the Soviet Union in WWII and still controlled by Russia, as being "illegally occupied". 

This hasn't been a good month for Japan's relations with its closest neighbours. Recently, Katsuto Momii the new head of Japanese public broadcaster NHK, dismissed the country's use of forced sex slaves (or 'comfort women') during WWII as "common practice" by all armies during war.  

[Image via Wikipedia]

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