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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 December 19 - 2008 January 8  > Education Ministry refuses to revoke textbook screening policy on Battle of Okinawa
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2007 December 19 - 2008 January 8 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Education Ministry refuses to revoke textbook screening policy on Battle of Okinawa

December 27 & 29, 2007
The Education Ministry on December 26 approved the applications of six textbook publishers for the correction of descriptions in history textbooks of the military’s role in civilian “mass suicide” during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa.

The ministry, however, refused to revoke its earlier decision to delete the account that the military forced Okinawans to commit “mass suicide.”

Those publishers sought the ministry’s permission to change their high school textbooks in order to clarify that civilians “were forced into mass suicide by the Japanese military.”

But the ministry instructed them to rewrite the passage, claiming that there is no hard evidence that the military directly ordered them to commit “mass suicide.”

As a result, the publishing companies gave up using such wording directly referring to military compulsion and instead wrote that “the Japanese military’s involvement” forced Okinawans to commit “mass suicide.”

The Education Ministry, on the other hand, approved including additional descriptions of the situation at that time such as an account that residents were instilled with fear of the U.S. forces, were not allowed to be taken prisoner, and were instructed to fight and die along with the Japanese military.

Some publishers were allowed to mention that last September a protest rally was held in Okinawa calling for the withdrawal of the ministry’s textbook screening policy and that there is a view that the “mass suicides” were in fact “forced mass death” instigated by the military.

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi on the same day issued a statement demanding that the ministry revoke its textbook screening policy.

“As many testimonies have established, it is an undeniable historical fact that Okinawans would not have killed their beloved family members if it were not for the military’s coercion,” Ichida said.

Ichida strongly denounced Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo for trampling on Okinawans’ trust by backing down on his remark made after the Okinawan rally that he will seriously consider Okinawans’ demands.

Ichida pointed out that the controversial textbook screening policy was nothing but a political intervention by the forces trying to justify Japan’s past war of aggression.

The organizing committee of the Okinawans’ rally demanding withdrawal of the government textbook screening policy, led by Okinawa Prefectural Assembly Chair Nakazato Toshinobu, decided on December 28 that they will continue to urge the Education Ministry to revoke the policy and allow textbook publishers to restore the description that the military forced civilians to commit “mass suicide.”

While appreciating that the “the Japanese military’s involvement” was mentioned and that information about the background of civilians’ “mass suicide” was included, the committee severely criticized the ministry for refusing to restore the phrase “the military’s coercion” back into textbooks.
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