New textbooks omit Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
Fukushima accident mentioned in only 1 elementary school science textbook
Only one of the six science textbooks approved for use at elementary schools from the next academic year covers the issue of the Fukushima nuclear accident triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
The textbooks are the first to be screened and approved by the education ministry since the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The results of the screening were announced April 4.
Five of the six publishers considered taking up the topic, but four eventually gave up. This was mainly because the word “atom” is not included in the education ministry’s curriculum guidelines for science in elementary school, making teaching how a nuclear plant works even harder than it is.
An editor at one publisher also said, “We could not deal with the issue negatively when our textbook is used in some municipalities hosting a nuclear plant.”
Even the science textbook from Dainippon Tosho Publishing Co., the only one that covers the accident, simply wrote: “The earthquake off the Pacific coast of the Tohoku region triggered an accident at a nuclear power plant.” The textbook mentioned effective use of resources as a lesson from the accident.
One publisher, though, tried hard to include an analysis of radiation in its science textbook for sixth graders.
“(Radiation) is an issue we will face for years,” said Takahiro Yano, editor in chief of the elementary school science textbooks division at Gakko Tosho Co. “We thought that if it is a science textbook, the issue should be included.”
But as the word “radiation” is also not included in the guidelines, publishers cannot take up the issue directly.
Under the circumstances, Gakko Tosho tried to include an explanation of radiation at the bottom of a one-page column on the life of Marie Curie, a Polish-born physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radiation.
The publisher tried to relate the column with the guidelines and included two lines on a water solution–which is taught under the guidelines for sixth-graders–because Curie used a water solution in her study.
However, the textbook failed to pass the ministry’s screening.
“There is no appropriate relation with the curriculum guidelines,” the education ministry’s comment said.
The publisher finally gave up on including the column after repeated discussions did not change the ministry’s view.
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