Controversial textbook group replies to criticisms of whitewashing past

AKEMI NAKAMURA – The Japan Times

Leaders of a group that edited a controversial history textbook denied Tuesday the book whitewashes Japan’s wartime atrocities.
Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Hidetsugu Yagi, president of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, said foreign experts and political leaders appear to have criticized the junior high school textbook without having read it.
So more non-Japanese can read it, the society has translated part of the book into English, Chinese and Korean, said Yagi, an assistant professor at Takasaki City University of Economics.
The society on Monday published its Chinese translation of sections relatingto China on its Web site at www.tsukurukai.com.
Its English translation of sections on events from the Industrial Revolution to the present and Korean translation of parts referring to the Korean Peninsula will be put on the Web site soon, according to Yagi.
The society was founded in 1997 by people known for having strong nationalistic views of history.
It created a history textbook for junior high school students, initially approved for use in schools by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry in 2001.
A revised edition, published by Fusosha Publishing Inc., was approved by the ministry last month.
But critics say the book glosses over Japanese military aggression in China from the 1930s through World War II and Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
The textbook makes no reference to women, mostly Asian, who were forced into sexual slavery at frontline brothels for the Japanese military.
Nobukatsu Fujioka, an author of the textbook who also spoke Tuesday, said the society did not include that topic in the book because it had not found evidence that the women had been forced into the sex work.
He said that the seven other history textbooks approved by the education ministry this year either don’t refer to “comfort women” or are vague on the subject.
Fujioka, a professor at Takushoku University, said he does not believe the claim that about 300,000 Chinese civilians were killed by the Imperial Japanese Army in Nanjing in 1937 in the event known as the Nanjing Massacre. The society’s textbook calls it the Nanjing Incident.
“Studies show that about 15,000 Chinese soldiers died in a battle (against the Japanese) in Nanjing. . . . But there was no massacre that resulted in the death of tens of thousands of civilians,” Fujioka said.
The ministry’s approval of the textbook last month spurred anti-Japan demonstrations in several Chinese cities.
To ease tensions, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi made a rare apology for Japan’s wartime past in late April, while the Chinese government has since taken measures to contain the rallies.
The Japan Times: May 11, 2005
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http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20050511f1.htm

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