High School Textbooks on “Logical Japanese” Screened for 1st Time

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The education ministry said Tuesday 189 textbooks in eight common subject categories to be used mainly by high school second-graders from April 2023 have passed the ministry’s screenings.

The textbooks included ones that were screened for the first time, such as on “ronri kokugo,” or logical Japanese language, and “nihonshi tankyu,” or exploration of Japanese history.

Many of the new textbooks became thicker as they adopted inquiry learning methods, such as having students write reports and hold discussions under the ministry’s policy of promoting so-called active learning to enable students to study proactively and in an in-depth manner.

The national language category will be restructured under new teaching guidelines to be imposed next month.

Specifically, two elective courses — one for nurturing ability in logical writing and critical reading and another for learning literature — will be introduced to replace “gendaibun,” or contemporary Japanese.

Two publishing firms’ textbooks on logical Japanese containing literary works as reference materials cleared the ministry’s screenings, however.

The ministry gave opinions on some textbooks on nihionshi tankyu and “sekaishi tankyu,” or world history exploration, as well as on politics and economy that they were not based on a cabinet decision last year that it is inappropriate to use “kyosei renko,” meaning taking someone somewhere against the person’s will, and “jugun ianfu,” or comfort women for military personnel.

After receiving the opinions, some publishers changed the word kyosei renko to “doin,” or mobilization, and “choyo,” or recruitment, or deleted the part containing the word.

Tokyo Shoseki Co.’s textbook on politics and economy mentions the 1993 comment by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono offering a heartfelt apology and remorse over the issue of comfort women without changing his wording “iwayuru jugun ianfu mondai,” or “so-called jugun ianfu issue” in English, while referring to the cabinet decision favoring the use of “ianfu” instead of jugun ianfu.

“I don’t think that our freedom is being restricted as there’s no rule that we’re only allowed to write the government’s views,” a Tokyo Shoseki official said.

In 2014, the ministry set guidelines calling on high school textbooks on geography and history and on civics to abide by the government’s official views, if any.

Meanwhile, many new textbooks take up the novel coronavirus pandemic and the lowering of the age of adulthood from 20 to 18 under the Civil Code in April.