historical revisionism, misinformation alive and well and living in Japan
Okay class, compare and contrast these little tidbits:
first the balanced view
Gov't OKs nationalist text; sex slavery glossed over
Wednesday, April 6, 2005 at 07:25
(Tokyo) --The education ministry on Tuesday authorized for school use a nationalist-written history textbook which China and South Korea accuse of glossing over Japan's wartime atrocities.
The ministry approved the controversial book as one of eight that can be used to instruct students aged 13 to 15 from April 2006. The book is an updated version of the textbook which triggered formal protests from Beijing and Seoul upon its release in 2001.
The decision immediately drew flak from China and South Korea.
South Korea says the textbook whitewashes over Tokyo's wartime atrocities. Protestors burnt Japanese flags in Seoul Tuesday afternoon.
"The government expresses regret that some of the authorized school textbooks still include contents that justify and glorify Japan's past wrongdoing," foreign ministry spokesman Lee Kyu Hyung said in a statement. "The government again calls for Japan's efforts to correct this."
While some of the eight history textbooks approved in the latest round of ministry screenings mentioned wartime sex slaves in simplified terms, most avoided going into detail and none used the term "comfort women" where some had done in the past.
The issue of North Korean abductions of Japanese nationals was introduced in all history and civic studies textbooks.
Tuesday's authorizations, which included screenings for history and eight other subjects, are likely to add fuel to Japan's already smoldering relations with Beijing and Seoul over historical and territorial disputes, analysts said.
In particular, an amended description in one civic studies textbook, which says "South Korea is illegally occupying" two disputed islets in the Sea of Japan, is certain to worsen Tokyo's relations with Seoul.
The two islets, collectively known as Takeshima in Japanese, Tokto in Korean and the Liancourt Rocks in English, are administered by South Korea but claimed by Japan.
Meanwhile, China summoned Japan's ambassador to Beijing and expressed strong resentment over the approval of the controversial history textbook that "distorts history," according to local reports.
Beijing also filed a protest via its envoy in Tokyo, saying the approval "hurts the feelings of victims" of Japan's past aggression in China and other parts of Asia.
In previous screenings in 2001, three of eight history textbooks used either "comfort women" or "comfort facilities." This time, only one publisher's textbook had the term "comfort facilities."
One of the textbooks referred to wartime sex slavery by simply saying, "Young women from Korea and other parts of Asia were assembled and sent to the battlefield for Japanese soldiers."
All textbooks used in the 1997-2001 school years made reference to "comfort women," or women, mostly from Asia, who were forced to work as prostitutes or sex slaves for the Japanese military.
Many textbook publishers attributed the trend of glossing over descriptions of Japan's past aggression to the influence of a nationalist group of academics known as the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform. The second edition of the group's controversial history textbook was approved Tuesday.
"Education boards tend not to choose textbooks that contain a lot of the so-called 'self-denigrating' content," one publisher said.
Senior vice education minister Hakubun Shimomura said earlier the word "comfort women" is unfit for junior high school textbooks.
As for the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China, with the exception of one textbook that says the number of victims "is said to be as many as 200,000," all the textbooks gave no specific numbers, saying only that "many" were killed.
Prior to the previous screening in 2001, six of seven history textbooks gave specific figures.
The most controversial history textbook is authored by the nationalist group and published by Fusosha Publishing Inc. Launched in 1997, the group criticizes mainstream Japanese history textbooks as being "biased against Japan" and marked by "self-denigration."
The textbook, first approved in 2001, was criticized by China and South Korea as justifying and glorifying Japan's past military aggression. The group had hoped the textbook would be used by 10% of junior high schools in Japan, but the actual adoption rate was significantly lower at a mere 0.04%.
In the latest approved edition, the authors complied with all 124 revision requests from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to correct content it deemed misleading or inaccurate, slightly toning down its nationalistic content.
Among the changes was the deletion of an entry that said Japan's annexation of the Korean Peninsula in 1910 was "accepted by some people in Korea" and the insertion of a portion noting Koreans were forced to assimilate under policies that included making them adopt Japanese names.
In a civic studies textbook also authored by the group and published by Fusosha Publishing, the draft referred to the disputed island issue saying, "South Korea and Japan are in conflict over its territorial rights."
The ministry said the wording "may lead to misunderstanding over the sovereignty" of the island. As a result, it was rephrased to adhere to the government's stance that the island "is Japan's sovereign territory but South Korea is illegally occupying it."
This comes amid South Korean fury over education minister Nariaki Nakayama's remarks that Japanese education guidelines should be revised to clarify Japan's claim to the island as well as a Japanese prefecture's designation last month of a commemorative day for Takeshima Island.
The focus will now be on which textbooks local educational authorities and school principals decide to use for the school year beginning next April.
All public and private schools in Japan — elementary to high school — must use textbooks that are either authorized by the education ministry or which have copyrights held by the ministry. (Wire reports)
Then there's the Basil Fawlty "Don't mention the war" version:
Advance items approved for new textbooks
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Education, Science and Technology Ministry on Tuesday released the results of its screening of middle school textbooks to be used in the 2006 academic year, in which the content for the first time was permitted to go beyond ministry-defined courses of study.
Such advanced content was permitted for the first time in high school textbooks approved in fiscal 2002.
The idea behind the added content is to make textbooks better suited for students who have higher-than-standard academic interest by including subjects that are generally taught at higher grades.
Of the newly approved middle school textbooks, some augment more basic content in the hope of increasing the basic academic abilities of students, which is said to have been declining recently.
Textbooks for all of the nine subjects taught at middle school, except for art, have had advanced content added to them.
The number of pages in textbooks for the main five subjects--Japanese, mathematics, science, social studies and English--have increased by an average of 10 percent.
The advanced content includes: Inequality (in mathematics for the first grade), quadratic formula (in mathematics for the third grade), regularity of inheritance (in science) and ion (in science). Also, the periodic table of the elements is used in all science textbooks.
Many of the textbooks place a great deal of emphasis on measures for students who need to strengthen their basic academic skill sets. For example, a mathematics textbook includes content that is taught in primary school, and a Japanese textbook has a section that lists 100 books recommended for the three years of middle school.
Altogether, 103 textbooks covering nine subjects had been submitted to the government for screening. A health and physical education textbook was initially rejected because it had "many inaccurate descriptions," but it was approved after being rewritten.
After the screening, the ministry issued 4,854 requests for corrections, about 500 more than during the previous screening. The textbook that required the most corrections was a home economics and domestic science, which contained 171 passages in need of amendment. The second was a science textbook that required 146 revisions.
Setting kids right on Takeshima
The ministry asked the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform to correct 124 points in its history textbook, and 75 in its civic studies textbook. The society made the corrections to the books, which are published by Fusosha Publishing Inc.
One description the ministry wanted corrected was on Takeshima, known as Tokdo in Korea, in the civic studies textbook. Initially, the textbook said; "South Korea and Japan are at odds over sovereignty" of the islets, which the ministry claimed "could mislead students regarding the sovereignty over the islets." After correction, the textbook says the islets are "our nation's own territory" and "illegally occupied by South Korea."
ROK expresses anger
South Korea expressed anger Tuesday over newly authorized Japanese textbooks, labeling them as "justifying and beautifying" Japan's Imperialist past, Yonhap News Agency reported. "Our government expresses regret that some of the authorized Japanese textbooks...still include contents that justify and beautify past wrongdoing," South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Lee Kyu Hyung was quoted by Yonhap as saying
Publishers correct mistaken views
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Education, Science and Technology Ministry has announced the results of its screening of middle school textbooks to be used next spring.
A major focus of public attention on this year's screening has been on history and civics textbooks. All textbooks by the eight publishers--including those written by members of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and published by Fusosha Publishing Inc.--eventually passed the ministry's examination.
Only one history textbook mentions the so-called comfort women. Currently, three history textbooks are being used that include references to women who provided sexual pleasure for soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army at military brothels during World War II.
History textbooks toe the line
History textbooks produced by seven publishers and used until the end of the 2001 school year touched upon the subject of comfort women. But four of these seven publishers dropped the references in textbooks to be used in academic 2002. This was also true of one produced by Fusosha, which published a history textbook for the first time.
The publishers' initial decision to include references to the "comfort women" in their history textbooks in those days largely reflected the widespread mistaken perception about so-called comfort women. It was believed both at home and abroad that those women had been transported for sexual servitude. Some groups in this country propagated the misguided notion that the wartime system created to form corps of women volunteers assigned to work at military factories and other facilities could be regarded as an attempt by the Imperial Japanese Army to forcibly recruit women as "comfort women."
However, the perception has been proved wrong. Given this, publishers had a good reason to remove references to "comfort women" from their textbooks.
Another focus of attention was on the rekindled territorial dispute between Japan and South Korea over the Takeshima group of islets. Civics textbooks compiled by Fusosha and two other publishers, as well as a geography textbook produced by another publisher, include a reference to the controversy.
Fusosha's textbook also incorporates a photograph of Takeshima island, which South Koreans call Tokdo. The photo caption included in the textbook submitted to the ministry for screening described the dispute as having "pit this country against South Korea over its right of possession." During the ministry's screening, however, Fusosha's textbook was rewritten to read that "South Korea unlawfully occupies Takeshima."
There is no wonder publishers that mentions any territorial dispute reflect the government's view about the problem in their textbooks.
Chinese, S. Koreans upset
The Chinese and South Korean governments appear to have been antagonized by the results of the ministry's latest textbook screening. The South Korean government reportedly intends to set up a team that will support a joint campaign by Japanese and South Korean citizens groups to prevent middles schools from adopting the textbooks compiled by the Japanese Society for history Textbook Society, known as Tsukuru-kai.
Obviously, Seoul's move should be regarded as interference in the internal affairs of Japan.
Shortly after the ministry's textbook screening four years ago, a similar campaign was conducted, targeting officials of education boards in some areas where Tsukuru-kai's textbook was being considered to be a final choice. While staying at home, these officials received telephone calls from members of organizations urging them no to adopt the textbook.
Three years ago, the Textbook Authorization Research Council, a ministry panel charged with screening school textbooks, urged the government to create "a peaceful environment" for officials responsible for selecting school textbooks to be used at schools in their areas. In those days, a prefectural school in Ehime Prefecture whose teaching system integrates middle and high school curriculums was disturbed by confusion as it sought to adopt Tsukuru-kai's textbook. The prefectural office was surrounded by a human chain formed by groups opposing the school's decision.
The ministry's textbook screening is a system established as a form of sovereignty to be exercised by this nation. No foreign country should be allowed to exert pressure on the Japanese system.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 6) Copyright 2005 The Yomiuri Shimbun