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2013年11月18日 (月)

教科書検定基準 領土と歴史の理解に役立つ

The Yomiuri Shimbun November 17, 2013
Review of school textbook screening must help understanding of history
教科書検定基準 領土と歴史の理解に役立つ(11月16日付・読売社説)

It is essential that textbooks children study accurately describe their country’s territories and history.

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hakubun Shimomura has announced that the government plans to review its standards on textbook screenings and aims to implement new criteria beginning next fiscal year.

We regard it reasonable that the government has decided to require textbooks to mention its consensus views on historical and territorial issues, a key point of the review.

Japan’s confrontations with China and South Korea over territorial and historical issues have escalated. Teaching Japan’s stance accurately would help children correctly understand the nation’s relationship with other countries. Such efforts are also important for the nation to foster people capable of disseminating the message of the legitimacy of the government’s positions on such issues to the international community.

South Korea has unlawfully occupied the Takeshima islands, an inherent part of Japanese territory, and Tokyo has taken the stance that there is no territorial dispute with Beijing over the Senkaku Islands administered by Japan.

Japan also has frictions with South Korea over the so-called comfort women issue and South Koreans’ rights to seek compensation from Japanese companies for what they claim was forced labor during wartime.

The Japanese and South Korean governments reached an accord on damage claims in 1965 that stipulates the issue “was resolved completely and finally.” Thus, the issue of compensation for individual South Koreans has been settled already.

It is vital that such Japanese government stance will be expressed in textbooks.

Objectivity is key

In revamping textbook screening standards, the government intends to demand that textbook publishers avoid conclusive descriptions on issues for which it has yet to reach a consensus. We believe this is an appropriate call to secure objectivity of textbooks.

For example, the number of people killed in the 1937 Nanjing Incident has yet to be determined. The figures vary widely, with some Japanese estimates citing several tens of thousands to 200,000 while China estimates more than 300,000 people were killed.

When dealing with such sensitive issues, descriptions unbiased by certain historical views are crucial.

In responding to a question in the Diet in April, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his view that the current textbook screening system does not reflect the spirit of the revised Fundamental Law of Education, which emphasizes the cultivation of patriotism. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s special panel also has called for the screening standards to be improved, saying it has found “descriptions with a self-deprecating view” in history textbooks.

However, the government has stopped short of seeking a review of a provision that requires it to pay certain consideration to Japan’s past relations with its neighboring Asian countries when referring to modern and contemporary history.

This so-called neighboring-countries provision was added to the textbook screening standards in 1982 to mitigate the fierce reactions from China and South Korea following false media reports that the education ministry had forced a change in the country’s textbooks of the description of an “invasion” of China by the defunct Imperial Japanese Army to an “advance.”

The creation of such a provision, however, has produced side effects such as self-restrictions by publishers and writers of textbooks.

In the increasingly globalized contemporary society, the nation should respect not only its neighbors but also other countries.

The historic role played by the provision is apparently coming to an end.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 16, 2013)
(2013年11月16日01時33分  読売新聞)


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