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Overview of Japanese history textbook content

Posted April. 04, 2001 13:11,   


1. Textbook by ` Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform`

The new history textbook that was compiled by Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and seven existing history textbooks that passed an official government screening Tuesday are far from satisfactory from Korea`s point of view. They omitted or distorted facts about Japan`s violence against Korea.

Still, traces are found that the right-wing group or the Education and Science Ministry tried to rewrite some parts that were criticized by Korea and China. Japan rewrites its textbooks every four years, so the textbook by Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform could be revised again in 2004.

The group achieved its main goal of passing the official evaluation. It also achieved its promotional goals by attracting attention at home and abroad.

The most controversial part was forcing in a series of events such as Japan`s annexation of Korea, the March 1 Movement and the Kanghwa-do Incident. However, Japan denied the justification for the Far East Military Court, using the word the Great East Asian War instead of the Pacific War. Also, it said that the war helped Asian countries achieve independence.

On the other hand, it tried not to mention facts about Japan`s violent behavior. It mentioned nothing about ``comfort women`` for the Japanese military. One of the founding goals of the organization was to omit reference to sex slaves from the history textbook.

2. Seven existing history textbooks

The seven existing history textbooks quietly omitted or watered down descriptions of Japan`s violent acts against Korea while domestic and foreign interests were the focus of the textbook written by the organization. Unlike the new textbook, the existing textbooks are expected to have a direct influence on Japan`s history curriculum.

Previously, all seven textbooks mentioned the ``comfort women.`` But, four of them completely dropped all references. In addition, two books mentioned that the ``comfort women`` included not only Japanese women but also Korean and Taiwanese women, lessening the seriousness of the act. Also, six textbooks removed the word ``invasion,`` which was previously used in all the books.

Japan`s Education and Science Ministry said the facts about Japan`s brutality toward Korea were reduced since middle schools cut history classes from the current four hours per week to three hours from 2002 as there will be no school on Saturdays. Also, the ministry said that some schools pointed out that it was inappropriate to teach about ``comfort women`` to middle school students, adding that the publishers voluntarily rewrote the textbooks. However, it is believed that the steadfast demands of the new organization had a strong influence on the content of these textbooks.

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Shim Kyu-Sun ksshim@donga.com