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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 April 15 - 21  > Abe gov’t pressures textbook publisher to delete description of Ainu land seizure
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2015 April 15 - 21 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Abe gov’t pressures textbook publisher to delete description of Ainu land seizure

April 17, 2015
It has come to light that a history textbook for use in junior high schools which was recently approved by the Education Ministry denies the fact that the Meiji Government deprived indigenous peoples in northern Japan of their land.

This came as Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s government is putting pressure on textbook publishers to describe historical issues in accordance with the government’s biased interpretation, including the Japanese military’s sex slavery (the so-called “comfort women”) system during World War II.

A history textbook submitted for authorization by the Education Ministry includes a passage that the Meiji Government enacted the Protection Law of Hokkaido Aboriginals in 1899 with the aim of seizing land from the Ainu, who were living as hunter gatherers at that time, and turning them into sedentary farmers.

The ministry “advised” the publisher to revise this description. The publisher then changed the explanation and wrote that (the Imperial Government) “gave” land to the natives in order to improve their lifestyle from hunting and gathering into farming. The textbook then passed the screening in early April.

Tawara Yoshifumi, representing the civic organization “Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21”, pointed to the fact that in 2010 the education authority gave approval to the same history textbook with the former description. He stressed that it is a common view among history experts that the central government compulsorily acquired the land from the Ainu people.

Tawara condemned Japan’s textbook screening system for working to distort historical facts, adding that the Abe government stance is going against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted in 2007.

The Meiji Government implemented a policy to forcibly assimilate the Ainu, causing devastating damage to the aboriginal society. The Protection Law of Hokkaido Aboriginals was finally repealed in 1997 as it was found to be inappropriate and was in fact promoting continued discrimination.

Past related article:
> Gov’t promises more education support for Ainu [June 7, 2011]
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