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EDITORIAL | Don't Let the Japan Teachers' Union Feed Kids with Falsehoods

The Japan Teachers' Union undermines the nation — and our children's future — when it encourages members to teach falsehoods, even China's propaganda line.

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The Japan Teachers Union national educational research meeting was held face-to-face for the first time in four years, January 26, in Sapporo. (© Sankei by Takahiro Omori)

Recently there have been reports about a workshop held by the Japan Teachers' Union (JTU). A teacher at the workshop allegedly delivered a report on lessons designed to incite criticism of the government by using teaching materials that labeled the treated water released from TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as "contaminated water."

"Contaminated water" is a misnomer that ignores the facts. It is also employed by China and other parties to criticize Japan. Such political propaganda should not be introduced into the classroom and our children should not be taught fantastical falsehoods. 

TEPCO officials guide IAEA Director-General Grossi to a site overlooking the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and treated water release site. IAEA also regularly checks the status of the facilities the safe release of treated water into the ocean. July 5, 2023 (Kyodo)

Revelations of a Sapporo Workshop

At the three-day workshop held in Sapporo beginning January 26, teachers delivered reports on their educational activities, including on the content of their daily instruction. 

One report was from a middle school social studies teacher from Kanagawa Prefecture. In a report on his actual social studies instruction, he claimed that he distributed printouts critical of the government's response after the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant accident. It was to get his students thinking about nuclear power issues, he claimed. 

However, this material he provided his students contained statements like "forcing the release of contaminated water, which was opposed by the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations." 

Japanese textbooks.

Suppressing Dissent

Furthermore, some of his students criticized China for slapping a total ban on the import of Japanese marine products in reaction to the release of ALPS treated water. However, this same teacher asked in return, "Who was it who was most opposed to the release?" The teacher went on to boast in his report that among other things, "I got them (the students) to understand that the government broke its promise to the Fukushima fishing federation and forced the release."

That is not instruction, but leading students toward the bias that the teacher personally advocates. Granted that teachers should provide their students with a variety of perspectives on nuclear power issues. Nonetheless, when students in this class were asked after class whether they agreed or disagreed with the government's policy, those opposed outnumbered those who approved by a ratio of roughly three to one. That reflects clear bias. 

According to the report, some students even offered radical opinions like, "The Prime Minister should resign to take responsibility!" 

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Doyu-no-Warito, a site of open-pit mining, which has become a symbol of the gold and silver mines of Sado Island. (© Sankei by Kenichi Honda)

Infection of the Japan Teachers' Union

Cases of biased teaching by JTU members have frequently occurred in the past. A similar situation occurred in an instructional practices report at a JTU workshop in 2023. In that case, a teacher described how he taught about the gold and silver mines on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture. The Japanese government is seeking to have the mines inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The instructor in question sought to instill a one-sided impression that laborers from the Korean Peninsula were forced to work in the mines. 

Painting Japan as a villain in history classes and other instruction is not limited to a minority of JTU teachers. Moreover, such politically biased instruction causes people to lose trust in teachers.

At a plenary session on the first day of the workshop, JTU president Tsukasa Takimoto referred to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the fighting between the Israeli army and the Islamic fundamentalist organization Hamas. He stated, "The constitutional and educational crises are increasing in Japan as well."

But isn't there a different real danger? That is, letting the Japanese be dragged down by a self-flagellating postwar education approach. That system results in biased teaching that ignores reality. We mustn't forget that the greatest casualties are our own children. 

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(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun
(Photo by Takahiro Omori)

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