In October, four university students were assigned as “student commentators” to the Takeshima Archives in Matsue Town, which provides documents relating to Takeshima, a group of islands that is part of Okinoshima, in Shimane Prefecture. The islands are still illegally occupied by South Korea.
The student commentators deepened their understanding of Takeshima to explain the problem to visitors in a way that is easily understood from their unique perspective as students.
In accordance with the curriculum guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education, Japanese schools have started teaching that Takeshima is part of Japanese territory, thereby raising awareness among the younger generation.
Find the truth in the story
“What do you know about Takeshima? “
On a Saturday afternoon in early October, Keita Tsuboi, 18, and Wataru Tsunai, 19, freshmen at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Shimane University, posed the question to a room in the archives. from Takeshima. The two then began to use slides from the archives to explain why Takeshima is part of Japanese territory.
Starting with the basics on the islands, the students presented a drawing of the area around Takeshima which was submitted by the Tottori Estate to the Edo Shogunate in 1696 to describe the location and shape of Takeshima.
They continued to explain with passion while alternating between explaining and operating the slides.
They then presented photos showing how the people of Oki (in Okinoshima) had hunted sea lions and collected seaweed on Takeshima since the 1890s, and how Takeshima was deeply connected with Japanese life.
RELATED: Crowdfunding Launch for English Version of Takeshima Islands Picture Book
They then moved on to the story of South Korea’s illegal occupation of Takeshima and the efforts of the Japanese government and prefecture to resolve the issue. They concluded their 10 minute presentation by saying, “Let’s learn the correct context of Takeshima”.
Tsuboi expressed his enthusiasm, “I don’t just read the basic script. I want to explain using my own words so that the audience can understand more easily.
Hiroshi Fujiwara, a 68-year-old “advocacy promoter” at the archives, said with a gentle smile, “Young people are much more interested in learning this way, rather than listening to an old man like me. ”
In search of more in-depth knowledge
Visitors can listen to the presentation led by the students on Saturdays from 1 pm to 5 pm until February 2022. The program was initiated by the prefecture in 2020 and led by students from Shimane University. The baton was passed to the students of the prefectural university of Shimane this year.
In 2021, in addition to Tsuboi and Tsunai, two other students, Shona Kageyama, a 20-year-old sophomore, and Rio Haruyama, an 18-year-old freshman at Shimane University, are collaborating on This program. Before becoming commentators, they participated in numerous study sessions, including expert lectures on Takeshima.
Tsuboi, from Tottori Prefecture, had many opportunities to learn more about Takeshima through the news and in the classroom.
“When I learned that my university was recruiting student commentators in July, I applied to learn more about Takeshima. The more I researched the Takeshima problem to become a commentator, the more I realized that the problem was not simple, ”he said.
Tsunai, from Kagawa Prefecture, said, “I have always been interested in territorial issues. When I heard that they were looking for candidates, I applied because it would be a good opportunity to learn more about Japan’s efforts and South Korea’s claims in more detail.
According to Yasushi Iwasaki, director of the Takeshima office in Shimane prefecture, a survey conducted by the prefecture shows that there is an increasing number of young people who are not aware of the Takeshima problem. “We can get more young people interested by educating students about the issue through university students. “
The number of visitors to the Takeshima Archives was around 5,000 in 2018 and 6,800 in 2019, but the pandemic has dropped the number to around 3,800 in 2020.
Director Iwasaki said, “This does not mean that interest in the Takeshima problem is waning, but we want to continue educating the people of the prefecture and the public. “
Raise awareness at all levels of education
Japanese schools have also taught more on the Takeshima issue.
In Shimane Prefecture, all public primary and secondary schools, high schools and special support schools have been teaching Takeshima since 2009.
The Education Ministry revised its curriculum guidelines to make it clear that Takeshima should be taught as “inherent territory of Japan”, to be effective nationally.
In social studies and other classes, from 2020 all primary school students started to learn that Takeshima is part of Japanese territory. Middle school students started in 2021 and high school students will start in 2022.
An official from the School Guidance Division of the Shimane Prefecture Education Bureau said, “We are delighted that Takeshima is being taught as an inherent territory in Japan nationwide. “
Student commentator Tsunai said, “I was interested in Takeshima and land issues, but some of my friends said, ‘I have heard of Takeshima, but I don’t really understand the problem. ”
He added: “I want the younger generation to think about this problem as well so that it can be solved.”
(Read it Sankei Shimbun report in japanese on this link.)
Author: Yuri Fujihara