Disputed Japan Islands Prompt Textbook Change

Wednesday, 29 Jan 2014 03:17 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Japan's disputed islands in the East China Sea are responsible for a textbook change by school officials on the island nation. The alterations will solidify Japan's ownership of the disputed islands in the minds of the nation's youth, according to Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura.

The revised teaching manuals, which are reportedly used to instruct junior high and high school students, will ensure that the youth is "properly" taught about Japanese history, Shimomura added, NBC News reported.

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The uninhabited group of small islands located just northeast of Taiwan have long been a point of contention between Japan, China, and South Korea, with all three nations claiming the islands are part of their territory.

Prior to the textbook changes, Japanese students were taught only about the opposing claims each of the three nations had on the islands.

In response to the revisions, South Korea summoned the Japanese ambassador to express their apparent disappointment.

"Our government strongly condemns this and asks Japan to immediately withdraw it," Seoul government officials said in a statement.

China has also disputed Japan's sovereignty over the islands, which are referred to in China as the "Diaoyudao Islands" and in Japan as the "Senkaku Islands."

Last July, Japan scrambled to mobilize their fighter jets in response to a Chinese military flyover through international airspace in close proximity to its southern islands.

At the time, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said, "I believe this indicates China's move toward further maritime expansion."

Japan has controlled the islands since 1895 through the end of World War II, at which point the U.S. gained control over them until the islands were returned to Japan in 1972.

Between the end of WWII and when the islands were given back to Japan, South Korea had control over the islands, NBC News noted.

China, meanwhile, claims to have discovered and controlled the islands since the 14th century.

In November, China expanded its air defense identification zone to include the disputed islands, NBC News reported.

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In response, the United States demonstrated its support for its Japanese ally by defying China's demand that airplanes flying near the islands identify themselves to Chinese authorities. The U.S. flew two unarmed B-52 bombers over the islands without first informing Beijing.

Tensions were heightened in 2012 after Tokyo decided to nationalize the archipelago.

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