JCP chair demands government cancel its approval of history textbook glorifying aggression

TOKYO -- On May 6, Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo discussed the JCP view on the history textbook issue on TV Asahi Network's talk show.

Japanese history textbooks, which the government approved for use in junior high schools from next April, continue to be under fire both at home and abroad.

Focus is on the textbook authored by the Society for History Textbook Reform which insists on putting Japan's aggression in Asia in a favorable light.

The following gist of Shii's remarks are based on the Akahata report of May 8:

Textbook's attitude of justifying Japan's colonization of Korea persists

The textbook issued by the "Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform" initially stated that in 1910 Japan legally annexed Korea, but after being approved by the government, the text was changed to "Japan carried out the annexation using military force to crack down on Korean resistance."

Tahara said, "Isn't this revision correct?"

Shii: If you single out that part of the textbook, I think it's correct. But judging from the whole text, it's not. The textbook states that the Japanese government at the time was worried about the possible takeover by another power of the Korean Peninsula, and that Japan's self-defense was being endangered because the peninsula is so close to Japan, so that Japan had no choice but to annex Korea. See? This is what the textbook wants to teach. Even after a revision, its general attitude of justifying Japan's colonization of Korea remains.

Tahara said that Korea at that time had Japan's puppet government and technically accepted the annexation.

In reply, Shii said that technically that was the case, but added that Japan threatened Korea with arms to deprive Korea of diplomatic rights.

Tahara said that Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs insists that the annexation was lawful.

Japan must admit to illegally annexing Korea, apologize, reflect, and compensate

Shii: A very equivocal settlement of the Korea annexation treaty was made in 1965 when Japan and South Korea concluded the treaty on their basic relations. The treaty made the Korea annexation treaty null and void, but the most serious question on whether Japan's annexation of Korea was legitimate or not remains unsettled.

The most important thing is for Japan to clearly admit that Japan's colonial rule was illegal and explicitly apologize for and reflect on it, and pay compensation for the damage.

Responding to Tahara, who said that when Japan colonized Korea, there was no consensus in the world that colonial rule was evil, Shii said:

Shii: The early 20th century saw great powers vying with each other for colonization. At that time colonization and wars of aggression apparently were regarded as legitimate. Even though the world order at that time was like that, it does not justify Japan's colonizing the whole of the Korean Peninsula.

Shigemura Toshimitsu, professor at Takushoku University, said, "I agree with Mr. Shii. The people of Korea are greatly apprehensive about a possibility that Japan might come back to rule Korea. It is important to make clear that history is for future generations to learn from, not for glorifying episodes in the past."

"Greater East-Asian War" was named by aggressor Japan

Shii:The Pacific War is referred to as the "Greater East-Asian War" in the Society's textbook. The words "Pacific War" are added in parentheses.

The name "Greater East-Asian War" was decided in the cabinet meeting on December 12, 1941, four days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The government at the time said that it embodies the aim of establishing a new order by creating the Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere in which Japan would dominate the whole of Asia.

The Society in the textbook calls the war "Greater East-Asian War" because it takes the same standpoint as the aggressor Japan at that time.

Tahara said that the Society's textbook is biased and so are other textbooks published so far because they lean to the left. As an example, he pointed out that in history textbooks in the 1980s it was not written that the Korean War was started in 1950 by North Korea attacking on South Korea.)

Shii: Yes, it is clear that the Korean War broke out following North Korea's advance into the south with the aim of liberating the whole of the south and thus achieving Korean reunification.

Mr. Tahara said that all textbooks were based on leftist views, but it's not true. In the past, the government decided to describe Japan's war of aggression as "Japan's advance" in textbooks. Regarding the revision of history in the textbook screening process which gave rise to international criticism, in 1982 the chief cabinet secretary issued a statement, followed by the inclusion of the "Neighboring-Countries Clause" in the screening criteria. Japan thus promised to the world that textbooks will be compiled based on a remorse for its aggression and colonization of other Asian nations.

Approving the Society's textbook goes against the promise. The government must accept responsibility for it and cancel the approval.

Proper history education means teaching the war of aggression as historical fact

Shii: Our study of South Korean public opinion, using information from Akahata's Seoul correspondent has found that very strong criticism of Japan's colonization persists in South Korea. We must take this fact fully into account.

We may have to deal with the school textbook problem in response to foreign criticism on this issue. But, the need now is for us to teach history appropriately to Japanese children, the future protagonists of Japan. That is to teach historical facts of the war of aggression and Japan's colonial rule. This is not a matter of outlook on history. Failure to do so will lead Japan to repeat the historical error. This is the point.

Kusano Atsushi (commentator): The screening system has worked well (in connection with the textbook published by the "Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform").

Shii: That isn't true. Symbolically, the Society's textbook replaced the Pacific War with the "Greater East Asian War." Even after the screening, no fundamental change has been made in the basic idea of the textbook.

Tahara: (Referring to the name of the Pacific War by the Allied Forces) It is unreasonable to say that the name imposed by the Allied Forces is correct and another name used by Japan incorrect.

Shii: The "Greater East Asian War" was named by the aggressors. The government which carried out the war used the name to make clear the aim of the war of aggression. We should not obscure this point.

Tahara: It's wrong to call the government the aggressor, and the people the victim. The people also were responsible for the war.

Shii: Let's recall the historical background that all those who opposed the war had been suppressed by the government under the Public Order Maintenance Law. Many JCP predecessors were tortured and killed.

Tahara: The Japanese mass media was responsible for citing the war.

Shii: Indeed, they must seriously reflect on it. (end)