Textbook sharing common view of history will open a future
Akahata editorial

Is it possible to share ae common perspective of history between countries?

This question has been answered by a new education text, titled "History for a Peaceful Future," published in cooperation among Japanese, Chinese, and South Korean researchers and teachers. This book is already on sale in South Korea. It will soon hit the bookstores in Japan and be on sale in China next month.

If the book "History for a Peaceful Future," which is intended to openly share a joint "understanding of history," is read by as many people as possible beyond national borders, instead of keeping ourselves within the framework of one country, so as to deepen mutual understandings and exchanges, it will greatly contribute to friendship and peace in the region.

Aspirations for peace

There were many differences in the understanding of historical facts, and historical perceptions among Japanese, Chinese, and South Korean researchers.

For example, as mentioned in the "History for a Peaceful Future," what the Japanese describes as the "annexation of Korea" was put in a different way in South Korea, namely the "forcible occupation of Korea," which represents the standpoint that the treaty at that time was invalid in the first place. Thus, there are some disagreements that need to be solved through further studies, but making efforts to overcome differences in historical understanding and eagerly engaging in discussions based on a common aspiration for peace is important.

It was the government approval of the "New History Textbook (Fusosha)" four years ago in Japan, which glosses over Japan's past war of aggression, that prompted scholars in Japan, China, and South Korea to publish a common historical education textbook. Not only criticizing the right-wing textbook for its dangerous assertions but also sharing a common awareness of "what kind of history actually should be passed down," they organized a "committee for a historical education book sharing a common understanding among Japan, China, and South Korea." That was how a work on the common textbook began.

In the book's editor's note, the committee states as follows: "Only dialogues, discussions, and solidarity directed to the future can widen our views and open the possibility of advancing history. It is the confidence that we've got through editing this book."

Opposite to "solidarity directed to the future," the history textbook edited by the society for History Textbook Reform categorically denies sharing a common historical view. It declares that different nations logically have different histories. It even argues that applying the present morals to history to pass judgment whether it was right or wrong should be ended.

This proposal is used to develop an argument that is not accepted internationally. For example, the Fusosha textbook includes the following descriptions:

"The Japanese government decided that it was necessary to annex Korea to protect Japanese security and Japanese interests in Manchuria.

The Japanese government named this war the Greater East Asia War. It declared that the objective of the war was for survival and self-defense, the liberation of Asia from the western rule, and for building a Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere."

The book sounds like it is merely stating facts, but it moves beyond that. It represents the thinking that this is Japan's view of the war and it should reasonably differ from the views of other countries which must not intervene in Japan's interpretations. Placing itself in a similar positions as the prewar Emperor government, the Fusosha textbook praises the war of aggression and colonization.

The new edition of the Fusosha textbook for the next school year (which the education ministry approved) is the same as the previous one in eulogizing and justifying the war of aggression and colonization. It is fundamentally wrong to approve the textbook.

People reject textbooks praising war

To force schools to use the textbook praising the war of aggression will harm the friendly relations between the peoples of Japan, other Asian countries, and the rest of the world. It will also rob children of the chance to live in peace. Let us help promote the use of this international history textbook in every locality. - Akahata editorial, May 30, 2005

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