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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 March 28 - April 3  > Education ministry orders revision of war history in textbook
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2007 March 28 - April 3 TOP3 [EDUCATION]

Education ministry orders revision of war history in textbook

March 31 & April 2, 2007
The education ministry ordered school textbook publishers to delete from history textbooks an account that the former Imperial Army had forced Okinawans to commit mass suicides during the Battle of Okinawa in the Pacific War.

The education ministry ordered school textbook publishers to delete from history textbooks an account that the former Imperial Army had forced Okinawans to commit mass suicides during the Battle of Okinawa in the Pacific War.

Historians and experts are criticizing this measure, arguing that it distorts the realities of the war and would lead to glorifying the mass suicides as voluntary actions, thereby taking sides with the reactionary move trying to justify the Japan’s war of aggression.

The ministry announced on March 30 the result of its screening of high school textbooks to be used from 2008 in which it ordered five publishers to rewrite the account in seven textbooks on the grounds that there is no evidence to show that the Imperial Army had ordered the mass suicides.

Those textbooks initially wrote that the Imperial Army had “forced” or “obliged” Okinawans to commit mass suicide. But, in the course of screening, the ministry expressed that such descriptions “may lead to misunderstandings about the reality.” In order to accommodate the ministry opinion, some publishers deleted “the Imperial Army” from the sentence to obscure who had been responsible for the mass suicides.

As the reason for this opinion, the ministry cited a lawsuit filed by a former military veteran in which he testified that he had never ordered Okinawans to commit suicide.

The ministry policy has drawn severe criticism from Okinawans. Those who experienced the fact that the military had not protected residents in the battle pointed out that the rewriting shows the Liberal Democratic Party government’s intention to deny the Imperial Army’s barbarous acts.

Hokama Toyo, an 89-year-old woman, said, “I deeply regret that as an elementary school teacher, I sent many children to battlefields during the war. Without the militarist education, residents would not have been driven to mass suicides.”

Miyagi Kikuko (78 years old) thought of killing herself with a grenade when the U.S. forces tracked the residents. “Eliminating from textbooks the Imperial Army’s involvement in the mass suicides would conceal a state crime and bring back the type of education in prewar days that hid the truth,” she said.

The March 31 issue of the Okinawa Times stated that it is impermissible to distort the truth about the mass suicides. The Ryukyu Shimpo in its editorial on the same day expressed its concern over the textbook screening decision that could distort the realities of the Battle of Okinawa.
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