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[Opinion] Japan Must Stop From Turning History Upside-Down

[Opinion] Japan Must Stop From Turning History Upside-Down

Posted July. 09, 2001 09:17,   


Japanese government officially notified its decision to revise only two items of the middle school historical textbooks yesterday. Japan decided to maintain the descriptions about the modern history while revising only two passages about the Korean ancient history out of the 35 items requested by the Korean government for revision. The 35 items all include the passages that distort, hide, and disparage the Korean history. Particularly, the major issues lie on the elimination and the reduction of the descriptions related to the `comfort women,` described in the textbooks.

Responding to the request of the Korean government for the re-revision, the Society for History Textbook Reform insisted that the Korean request is the intervention into the internal matters and the description of `the comfort women` exclusively belongs to the authors. Furthermore, the representative author of the distorted textbook Sakamoto Dakao has been criticized even by the Japanese women for his gender-biased statements such as the reckless remark, in which he had compared the history of `the comfort women` with the history of `restroom.`

History is a common framework to view the world. Particularly, the history education is to help the students to understand the history for a universal worldview. The issues of the Japanese textbooks raise such questions as what is the universal worldview? and what is the universal common sense?

At the turning of the 21st century, the world citizens reflected on the bloody 20th century and hoped for a peaceful 21st century. All wished for the human being to never commit such brutal crimes as wars, sexual violation, experiments on living persons, and mass murders. Germany, who had experienced the cruelty of the Nazis, has operated the Germany-Poland Dialogue Committee to provide recommendations for the historical books of both countries for past 30 years. According to a survey, 90 percent of the publishers have followed the recommendations.

What about the Japanese historical textbooks? Japan has insisted on that the subject of the Japanese historical texts is not Japanese people but rather Japanese king or the ruling elites. The textbook authorization system of Japan does not care about the historical perspectives of the textbooks. In spite of the Korea-Japan Partnership Joint Declaration in 1998, the Japanese government rejected the request of its partner Korean government. Japan totally ignored the requests of the Korean government and NGO for Japanese sincere response to this matter. Therefore, it is certain that Japan has given up its ethical responsibility for the cure of the scars by the Japanese colonialism.

Over 80 Korean NGOs established the `Headquarters for Rectification of Japanese Textbooks` in March this year and have cooperated with Asian NGOs for this issue. The Headquarter is to set for the movement for the re-revision of the Japanese textbooks and the rejection of those historical textbooks. And the Headquarter will run the full-page ads in the Japanese newspapers, which have ignored this issue, to appeal directly to the Japanese people. In addition, the products of the Japanese enterprises that have supported the publication of the distorted textbooks will be put under the consumers` boycott.

Our hope is a peaceful Asia. To create a peaceful Asia and to be a shameless member of the international society, Japan has to rectify its distorted textbooks. Japan has to recognize that it should take a little bit of its responsibility by correctly describing the history of the `comfort women,` which includes all kinds of multi-layered problems such as the imperial system, the gender discrimination, and the colonialism.

Kim Yoon-Ok (Standing representative of The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan)