Japanese History, Again

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Japanese History, Again

Japanese intellectuals, including historians and educators, have come forward to strongly oppose the Japanese Education Ministry's possible approval of a history textbook. In a statement urgently released on Thursday, 889 Japanese intellectuals, such as Haruki Wada, honorary professor of Tokyo University, asserted that the ministry should throw out a secondary school history textbook submitted for approval by an ultra-right-wing history study group called "Citizens for the Compilation of New History Textbooks."

In the statement under the title "We cannot put history education in the hands of a textbook distorting historical facts," they criticized the book in question: "It treats myths as historical facts and describes Japan's modern war as a 'war to liberate Asia.'"

It is known that the textbook in question is highly likely to garner the ministry's authorization early in March after the revision of about 200 details. The statement reflects an urgent concern by Japan's intellectual community over the likelihood of the approval. To date, conscientious intellectual groups in Japan have expressed their worries over this particular textbook through various channels.

Japan's reality,however, is regrettable in that instead of paying attention to their call, ultra-right camps have lashed out at these concerned citizens with numerous acts of violence. The most recent issue of "Weekly Friday," a Japanese news magazine, has laid bare the myriad cases of terrorism and threats targeting those who have expressed their opposition to the falsification of history.

As we have already pointed out several times, the textbook in question amounts to a historical spin literature completely seeped in Japanese imperialism, and it goes without saying that such fiction is not fit to be used as a textbook. The Japanese government must return to the spirit on which it voluntarily settled after the textbook scandal in the 1980s: "Descriptions of the parts related to foreign nations will be considered in view of international understanding and cooperation." We urge the Japanese government to listen to the intellectuals' voice of conscience.

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