[EDITORIALS]How to Protest Japanese Textbooks

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[EDITORIALS]How to Protest Japanese Textbooks

The government has suddenly changed its course and is taking a hard-line stance on the distortions in Japanese history textbooks. As a diplomatic gesture, it recalled its top envoy in Tokyo, and it censured Japan before an international audience at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. A textbook contingency group made up of working-level officials was launched. The government's shift toward a hard-line opposition is understandable and inevitable, and we hope it was not an impromptu decision made without preparation. Some people already raise questions as to whether the envoy recall is for domestic consumption only. It is also worrisome that should Japan not budge, the recall may tie our hands in the future. All the more reason why well thought-out measures are needed and important.

First, the government should analyze in detail the contents of eight textbooks which passed the Japanese review, and officially demand amendments based on the results. The government should also gradually step up diplomatic pressure on Japan bilaterally and multilaterally until signs of good faith are visible. If necessary, even the president should step forward. We might cooperate with China as a way of pressing Japan, which is aiming at a seat as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Cooperation is necessary with North Korea and other countries that have experienced Japanese invasion. The textbooks should be made an international issue.

Efforts should also be made not only to have the textbooks amended, but more importantly, to stop schools from using them. We must convince the Japanese public to prevent members of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform Committee from taking over the country's academic programs. Intellectuals, scholars and civic groups can help here. Although Japan is said to be tilting to the right, the majority of Japanese intellectuals are opposed to an imperialist outlook. We must work with these intellectuals to expand the anti-imperialist opinion among the public. Politicians should support government and civic efforts by mobilizing their Japanese connections.

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