The education ministry on Wednesday unveiled its new teaching guidelines for senior high schools, which emphasize that two island groups at the center of territorial disputes are "inherent" parts of Japan's territory.
The decision to add a description on the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands and the South Korean-controlled Takeshima islets is in tandem with the revision of teaching guidelines for elementary and junior high schools, the content of which was announced last year.
But the most recently unveiled guidelines, which the ministry revamped for the first time since 2009, immediately drew protests from South Korea, which controls the Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan under the name Dokdo.
China may also react similarly as the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea are claimed by the country, which calls them Diaoyu.
The legally-binding guidelines will become official by the end of March after soliciting opinions from the public, according to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. They will be applied to the education of newly enrolled senior high school students from the school year starting April 2022.
In a major reorganization of the current curricula, a total of 27 courses would be created inside subject areas.
For example, a mandatory course to learn "the qualities and abilities needed to become people who form the country and society" was established in civics. The course will encourage students to actively participate in politics, with the minimum voting age having been lowered to 18 from 20 in 2016.
The guidelines also aim to raise students' awareness as participants in the sovereignty of the country, such as by teaching issues linked to national security, according to the ministry.
On English language education, the guidelines reorganized the current courses so that students can improve their abilities in reading, listening, speaking and writing in a balanced manner.
The number of credits required for graduation is unchanged at 74. But the total amount of description in the guidelines increased 1.5 times from the existing document, apparently to provide support to younger teachers who are lacking guidance amid the retirement of the postwar baby boomer generation.
"There is no change in the role of education guidelines, which is to show the minimum criteria for learning," an education ministry official said.