Refusal to amend textbook will cut Japan off from rest of Asia -- Akahata editorial, July 11, 2001
The Koizumi Cabinet has rejected requests from South Korea and China for major amendments to the "New History Textbook" edited by the Japanese Society for Textbook Reform.
South Korean President Kim Dae Jung's statement that the decision is absolutely unacceptable represents these countries' severe criticism of the Koizumi Cabinet.
This has a serious bearing on Japan's political course as well as its relations with other Asian countries.
Endorsement of glorification of war of aggression
The "New History Textbook" states that Britain, the U.S.A., and Russia did not raise an objection to the 1910 annexation of Korea by Japan, the aim being to describe the event as an internationally accepted legitimate act.
Casting skepticism about the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, in which persons who were responsible for the war of aggression were convicted as war criminals, the textbook states, "Such a court was without a precedent in the history of international law."
The "New History Textbook" thus defies the universal principle established after WW II by the international community to repudiate the war of aggression and colonial rule by Japanese militarism as being illegal.
The Koizumi Cabinet insists that such descriptions are not grossly mistaken. This means that the Koizumi Cabinet declared to officially approve on its own accord the controversial textbook which passed the government screening under the preceding cabinet.
This is tantamount to declaring to the world that the Japanese government is tolerant of school education which extols war of aggression and colonial rule.
What's more, the Koizumi Cabinet sent a delegation of the ruling parties to South Korea and China for the purpose of asking for these countries' understanding. This means that the ruling coalition parties, including the Liberal Democratic Party and the Komei Party, share the praise of war of aggression with the Koizumi Cabinet.
The South Korean government refused to "understand." LDP General Secretary Yamasaki Taku unjustly pointed his criticism at the South Korean government, saying "It is regrettable that South Korea has failed to come up to our expectations that they can understand."
As victim nations of Japan's cruel war of aggression and colonization, South Korea and China have good reason to reject the school textbook, which glosses over the aggression.
Reflection on the war of aggression and the period of colonization was a promise Japan made to the peoples of Asia and the rest of the world following the war's end.
By refusing to change texts which contradict Japan's postwar principle and by pushing other Asian nations into accepting them, the Koizumi Cabinet as well as the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komei parties are putting up stumbling blocks to the path of solidarity with other Asian countries.
The Koizumi government's rejection of calls for textbook changes has the same root of militarism as Prime Minister Koizumi's willingness to visit Yasukuni Shrine as a government official in contravention of the constitutional principles of freedom of religion and a ban on State's religious activities, and his call for an adverse revision of the Constitution to enable Japan to take part in joint military action abroad as part of exercising the right to collective self-defense.
Other Asian nations are increasingly concerned about and are criticizing Prime Minister Koizumi's remarks and actions.
It is the responsibility of the Japanese people to pass a severe verdict on the Koizumi Cabinet and its coalition partners and prevent Japan from stepping onto a wrong path of confrontation with other Asian nations.
The textbook question calls into question each political party's attitude toward war of aggression and colonization.
The LDP's call on Korea and China to "understand" the textbook in question has something to do with the fact that it continues to embrace forces which pushed ahead with the war of aggression and that it still is uncritical of the past war of aggression today, 56 years after the war's
By contrast, the JCP indomitably struggled against Japan's war of aggression and colonization and is now taking the lead in developing friendship and solidarity with other Asian nations.
In the coming House of Councilors election, the textbook question also provides an arena of head-on confrontation between the JCP and the LDP.