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Distorted Japanese History Textbooks Are Approved

Posted April. 05, 2005 23:29,   


It was anticipated that the inspection result of the Japanese middle school textbooks would be disappointing.

The approved textbooks can be seen as a clear representation of Japan’s true intention that, 60 years after its defeat, Japan no longer wants its “dark” past in history.

History Distortion Was Foreseen—

Japanese Education Minister Nariaki Nakayama, in charge of inspecting textbooks, has repeated reckless comments, accelerating them since the latter half of last year when the inspection process was in full swing.

Then, last November, he expressed his satisfaction with expressions such as the sex slavery and coercive mobilization being mentioned less in the Japanese history textbooks. Also, he claimed earlier this year that Japan had to get rid of a “self-torturing” view of its history.

On March 29, nearing the final stage of the process, the minister suggested that the present guidelines for textbooks should display the Dokdo islets and Senkaku archipelagos (or Diaoyutai in Chinese) as Japanese territory.

Nariaki Nakayama of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has the right to appoint 20 members of the inspection committee. Influenced by the minister, the committee members went further to replace the controversial phrase from the Fusosha civics textbook describing Dokdo as a disputed region with the more distorted claim by calling the islets Japanese territory.

The textbook inspection has been one of the most significant pending diplomatic issues in its relationship with Korea and China. Knowing this well, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi appointed the controversial figure at the post, which does not make the prime minister free from responsibility.

Japan’s Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, who brought on trouble for his direct criticism of President Roh Moo-hyun’s remarks, is the one who approved the Fusosha’s distorted textbook four years ago, when he himself was the education minister. Acting Secretary General of Japan`s governing Liberal Democratic Party Shinzo Abe, a strong candidate to be the next prime minister, sent his message to the events held by the Japan’s rightist group, “The Japanese Association of History Textbook Reform,” which made the Fusosha version of the distorted history textbook, and promised full support.

Japanese Government No Longer Regards Itself as War Criminals-

Experts have asked for serious attention to the Japanese government’s official attitude toward its history. They said that the Japanese government made it clear that it will conceal or distort historical facts so that the next generation will be no longer halted by the shackle of being called “descendents of war criminal,” and that they would then be proud of their history.

Honorary professor Kang Deok-sang (73) of University of Shiga Prefecture, a historian in Japan, said that there are several powers who want the return of the militarism period in Japanese society, implying that the inspection result can be understood in line with Japan’s tendency to lean to the right.

The fact is that a provision for caring about the goodwill of neighboring nations, which served to control the description of the past thanks to conscious groups inside Japan, has been almost neglected in this case. The existence of sex slavery has been eradicated in the history textbook. The responsibility of the massacre of Koreans during the Great Kanto Earthquake is also described vaguely.

The Fusosha history textbook carries the editor’s comment, saying, “Japan has lost its direction in the last half century. It became one of the world’s most powerful nations, but has failed to heal from the wound it suffered from the defeat. Therefore, it has not been able to have confidence. Having it is the most important thing to do now,” giving hints of its real intention for the history distortion.

Won-Jae Park parkwj@donga.com