[EDITORIALS]Mr. Nakayama’s absurd remarksLast November, he said, “It is very good that Japanese textbooks have reduced their use of expressions such as ‘comfort women’ and ‘forced.’” Three days later, pressured by public opinion, he apologized for that remark. In January of this year, he caused another uproar, saying, “There are a lot of textbooks that are too hard on us.” His book “Questions on History Textbooks,” which is sold at the Yasukuni Shrine, preaches that historians should be armed with a historical view that is not “self-abusing.” He is the Japanese Education Minister, Nariyaki Nakayama, who is responsible for certifying Japan’s textbooks.
On Wednesday, answering questions raised at the Japanese Diet, Mr. Nakayama said, “In ‘Guidelines for Teaching,’ which interpretes the content of textbooks, we have to state clearly that Takeshima [Japan’s name for Dokdo] is part of Japanese territory.” Perhaps such an answer was natural for him, considering that he was the key figure in a group called “Meeting of Young Legislators Who Think About Japan’s Future and History Education,” which was formed in 1977 to support the production of distorted history textbooks. Still, it was an absurd remark that we can’t overlook. If he doesn’t intend to drive the relationship between our countries to catastrophe, how could he utter such words? This is nothing but a provocation, one that further complicates the Dokdo issue and the history textbook problem.
We cannot help but ask Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi this question: With your education minister repeatedly making such blunders, how can we steer our relations toward the future? We have heard numerous absurdities from Japan in the past, but we took them to be flukes. But we can’t help but wonder whether a distorted understanding of history has become the accepted norm in Japan.
We would ask Mr. Nakayama: “Is this your personal view, or is it the general opinion of the Japanese cabinet?” Mr. Nakayama said last week, of President Roh’s open letter on Japan, “We have to move toward the future, as we had until now.” Is it looking to the future to state that Dokdo is Japanese territory? We have seen many young Japanese politicians resign to take responsibility for their absurd remarks about Dokdo. If Mr. Nakayama thinks he can avoid taking comparable responsibility, as he did last year, he is suffering from a major misunderstanding.