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[Editorial] Refusing Fabricated Textbooks Depends on Japanese Citizens’ Conscience

[Editorial] Refusing Fabricated Textbooks Depends on Japanese Citizens’ Conscience

Posted March. 11, 2005 22:38,   


The contents of a middle school history textbook that the Japanese right-wing organization “Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform (Tsukurukai)” filed for official approval in the Japanese Ministry of Education have been revealed. The contents are even more knavishly fabricated than the 2001 edition, totally betraying all hope for improvement.

The new textbook seemed to show some consideration, changing “Lee Dynasty Joseon” to “Joseon” and removing Saigo Dakamori’s “Junghanron” (the 19th Century theory that strongly advocated Japan’s invasion of Korea). However, details on the sufferings and sacrifices of the Joseon people under Japanese rule were also eliminated, and forced drafting and conscription were equivocated with the statement, “The drafting and conscription system was enlarged towards the end of the war.” “Changshi Gaemyung” (when Koreans were forced to assume Japanese family and given names) was distorted to seem like Koreans had wanted it. Moreover, a separate column titled “Japan, Helpers of Joseon Modernization” was created, beautifying and justifying Japanese aggression and colonization.

At this point, the only sources to lean towards are the Japanese Ministry of Education and certain conscientious intellectuals and citizen groups. The Ministry of Education is currently examining this textbook. At the end of March or the beginning of April, the Ministry will reveal what it has ordered to revise and to what extent. Though there is not much time, the Ministry’s careful and deliberate examination of the textbook is expected. This is the only way to prevent Korean-Japanese relations from reaching a dead end.

Citizen groups are next. In 2001, conscientious intellectuals and citizen groups in Japan formed groups such as “Children and Textbook National Net 21” and “Suginami Mothers” to oppose the use of this textbook. By holding protests, national lecture tours, press conferences and human-belt-making events, these groups demanded that textbooks teaching a distorted history should not be selected. In effect, only 0.039 percent chose this textbook. This was, as they declared, a “victory of the sensible Japanese.”

As long as a group bent on teaching history with distorted and fabricated stories has power in Japan, the future is bleak for both Korea and Japan. China will not stay as well. We cannot talk about northeast Asian cooperation under this condition. We once again look forward to a “meaningful victory of the sensible Japanese.”