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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 March 27 - April 2  > Gov’t textbook screening makes many revised descriptions vague
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2013 March 27 - April 2 [EDUCATION]

Gov’t textbook screening makes many revised descriptions vague

March 27 & 28, 2013
Descriptions in the next school year’s textbooks for geography, history, and civics classes have been modified in accordance with government views as a result of the textbook screening process. A publishing workers’ union and an education-related citizens’ network are criticizing the modifications as obscuring facts.

The ministry of education on March 26 released the result of the government screening on those textbooks which are scheduled to be used in high schools from April.

Regarding the issue of postwar reparations, the authorities had the explanation changed from “not solved yet” to “already been solved”.

In terms of nuclear power generation, some textbooks had described that Japan “should break away from nuclear energy” but were forced to revise them to “opinions calling for denuclearization have become widely heard.”

All history textbooks state something about the Nanjing Massacre in which the Japanese Imperial Army slaughtered many Chinese residents during the war. The government screening panel, however, urged some textbooks to change the statement from “at least 100,000 people were killed” to “there are several theories about the number of victims.”

Concerning Japanese territories, the government examiners had some authors and publishers replace the description treating the Senkaku Islands in the same way as the Takeshima Islands with a description like “China claims its sovereignty over Okinawa’s Senkaku islands” based on the government position that there is no territorial dispute over the Senkakus.

The Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21 on the same day issued a comment calling into question the government’s intervention in textbook descriptions as a means to distort and obscure historical facts. The network argued that the imposition of significant changes in the textbooks by the state is inappropriate.

The Japan Federation of Publishing Workers’ Unions (Syuppan-roren) also expressed its view that publishers and authors were forced to confirm government positions or, for example, underestimate the risk of nuclear power generation in order to obtain government endorsement.
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