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[Editorial] Japanese textbooks contrary to historical facts

[Editorial] Japanese textbooks contrary to historical facts

Posted September. 14, 2000 23:08,   


We are enraged and appalled by the fact that the year 2002 editions of Japanese history textbooks for middle school students convey with all one mouth distorted histories.

There are all 8 history textbooks which are waiting for the official approval by Japan's Ministry of Education.

Among them, one textbook was compiled by the so-called new association to write history textbooks. This created a big controversy last month because it distorted the Japanese aggression over Asian nations during the World War II as the war of liberation for Asians. Deplorably, there is hardly any substantial difference except a matter of degree between the controversial edition and the remaining 7 textbooks on the historical distortion over the Japanese war of aggression.

The historical distortions of these textbooks include, among others, Japan's occupation of Korea as a lawful seizure consistent with the established practices of the then international relations; the use of the word "advancement" instead of "aggression"; and, the use of vague and evasive expressions over, or elimination altogether of any references to, such Japanese atrocities as Nanjing's colossal massacre, the life of comfort women as sex slave, the ghastly 731 military detachment for medical experiment on human beings, and enormous massacre of Koreans in Japan during the Kwandong earth quakes. We cannot help but laugh at such historical distortions of the Japanese war of aggression which cannot be hidden no matter how long a time elapses; their historical distortions conjure up an image of a person trying to hide the Sun with his palms.

We must pay due attention to the fact that these Japanese history books appear all desperate in trying to distort history. We find it rather incomprehensible that such distortions are taking place in Japan when it should repent over its historical past, especially at a time that all Asian countries are seeking peace and reconciliations among them.

Certainly, what is taking place in Japan goes against such a trend for peace in Asia.

Some people point out that such a trend is due to the pressures of Japan's rightist organizations aiming for a revival of its nationalism.

The story is that Japan's Ministry of Education concious of such a move for a rightist trend, is exerting a sort of invisible influences over the writing of history books. If this happens to be true account of the case, this is something we should be very concerned about.

We don't know what exactly Japan aims to gain out of such historical distortions.

If Japan expects to gain some nationalistic effects from its historical distortions and stops describing its history exactly as it was, this will be a dangerous endeavor on its part as to have adverse effects on peace in Asia.

Fortunately, the official approval over those textbooks is not given yet by Japan's Ministry of Education. The Japanese government must make sure that such distorted history textbooks should not obtain its approval.

All Asian countries have already shown their sensitivity to this issue.

China has strongly criticized against the Japanese history books immediately after it has learned about their distortions. North Korea has also requested their instant correction.

Our government's reaction by contrast appears inordinately wish-washy.

Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and trade, through only its news briefing instead of official comments, stated that we are keeping a watchful eye on the historical distortions of Japanese textbooks, and that it intends to convey our concern to Japan.

It appears that diplomatic considerations had something to do with the Ministry's meager response to the isssue.

But, the distortions of history should clearly be dealt as a separate issue from a conduct of a right diplomacy. Thus, the government must right now convey to Japan its strong protest against the Japanese historical distortions. It must request as well that the history textbooks should not be given an official approval by Japan's Ministry of Education.