This paper examines how pre-service social studies teachers handle controversial issues in their practice. Based on the results, suggestions for improving the social studies teacher training curriculum are obtained. Previous social studies suggested that teacher training programs must be reformed in order to enhance the practice of controversial issues learning, but the specifics of the reforms have not been clarified. This is partly because, although previous studies focus on in-service teachers, there has been little research to clarify the perceptions of pre-service teachers regarding teaching about controversial issues. In this paper, we examined the selection and handling of controversial issues by prospective social studies teachers based on questionnaires and interviews with Japanese prospective social studies teachers. The results suggest the following two points. First, there is a need to visualize and verbalize the prospective teachers’ concerns and gatekeeping process with regard to the teacher training curriculum. Second, for teacher education research, there is a need to strengthen cooperation with outside social studies and to expand the role of teachers.