Japanese principal receives threats for using ‘comfort women’ textbook

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Japanese principal receives threats for using ‘comfort women’ textbook

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“Tomoni Manabu Ningen no Rekish" history textbook for middle schools published by Manabisha, which contains contents on so-called comfort women, or Korean women forced to work as sexual slaves for the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. [JOONGANG ILBO]

TOKYO — A middle school principal in Japan received over 200 threatening letters for using a history textbook that mentioned the so-called comfort women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

The textbook, “Tomoni Manabu Ningen no Rekishi,” which roughly translates to “Human History We Learn Together,” is published by Manabisha, a publication company based in Tokyo. The book mentions the 1993 Kono Statement, in which the Tokyo government acknowledged and apologized for Japan’s wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women.

Principal Magohiro Wada of Nada Middle School in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, told the Mainichi Shimbun that after the school adopted the textbook in December 2015, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party contacted Wada to ask him why he selected the textbook.

Then in March of last year, the school started receiving postcards from people who called themselves graduates or parents of students at the school, voicing opposition against the school’s use of the textbook.

“We’ve adopted a textbook that has passed ministry screening, but we received postcards from those claiming to be politicians, and there have been news reports calling into question the use of the textbook while identifying the schools by name,” Wada told Mainichi Shimbun. “We felt political pressure.”

He said the school received over 200 such postcards in six months. Some asked, “Are you communists?” Others said, “I will not make any donations to this school.” Wada said most of the postcards had the same content, raising suspicions that one or more organizations may have been behind the protest.

Wada first posted online about the postcards in September 2016, but it wasn’t until last month that local media outlets began reporting on it, the Mainichi said.

It also reported that 10 more middle schools have received letters of protest for using the same textbook, though none have stopped. A total of 38 schools are estimated to have adopted the textbook in Japan, according to the news outlet.

BY YUN SUL-YOUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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