Textbook distortionsIt may claim that a sentence here and there is likely to arouse misunderstanding. Elsewhere, it will demand that additional views be included to correct supposed disparities.
In this way does Japan’s Ministry of Education and Science censor the textbooks produced by various publishers. The publishers, whose success depends on a ministerial endorsement, have no choice but to accept the changes. Therefore, it is certainly no surprise that the distorted historical views of the Japanese power elite permeate textbooks with few exceptions.
Such worries were validated after the recent changes to the 2008 high school textbooks published on March 30 made by the Ministry of Education of Japan.
The ministry successfully changed the words to say that Dokdo is Japanese territory. A paragraph that used to read, “what we call the Sea of Japan is called the East Sea in Korea and some other countries,” was altered to avoid misunderstanding. It now says: “...the Sea of Japan, which is a common coinage generally employed in the maps of the world ...”
Due to the heavy hand of the ministry, the textbooks that remain true to historical fact are decreasing. Only one textbook out of 16 that mention the so-called “comfort women” sex slaves of World War II states that they were forced into brothels by the military. Other merely say that the women “were sent” or “dispatched” in some passive manner, without explaining who did this and why. The Ministry of Education did not correct these mistakes of fact, of course, because the interpretation perfectly appeals to the current administration, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The publishers know what to do and why.
In the same manner, the ministry has ordered the deletion of readings that discuss the Japanese army’s order of mass suicides of civilians during the battle of Okinawa. It also provided guidelines to include various alternate views on the number of deaths that occurred in the Nanjing massacre. What else could these guidelines be, other than an attempt to dissemble over the cruelty of their own war crimes?
The censorship of Japanese history textbooks ignores international feeling, especially in Asia. Does Japan truly dare to oppress freedom of expression and the conscience of publishers under the guise of producing guidelines for publishers?
Why must they insist on distorting history in the minds of young people?