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Distorted History Textbook Unacceptable

As the world in general is preparing to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the victory over Fascism later this year, the right-wing activists in Japan, however, are seeking to whitewash the country's militaristic past by publishing a new history textbook more distorted than the previous one.  

The new textbook, subject to the Education Ministry's screening in early April, gives yet another vivid and shocking example on how desperately Japanese right-wingers want to negate history and defy justice.


Packed with lies, contradictions and even myths, the textbook rewrites the history, particularly in the first half of last century when Japan launched aggression to many Asia-Pacific countries and imposed extended colonial rule in much of the region.


Some of the texts are sheer absurdity. For instance, the reason that the Japanese are superior to others in the world, the textbook concludes, is that the nation is endowed with a monarchy of impeccable pedigree whose royal blood has run thousands of generations.


Others are more calculated and outright lies, such as Japan's role in World War II.


The book depicted Japan as a victim of World War II: It was provoked and forced into a war it did not want to enter in the first place; its soldiers killed and abused civilians of other countries as were following the common practice in the world; it was severely attacked by Alliance troops and air-raided with two atom bombs, etc.


Nothing could be further from the truth.


The textbook blames China for instigating a series of incidents leading to Japan's invasion to China. For one, it claims the Lugou Bridge (alias Marco Polo Bridge) Incident in north China on July 7, 1937, which marked the beginning of Japan's all-out aggression of China, broke out because "Chinese army kept shooting at the Japanese troops."


Curiously, it omits explanation why the Japanese aggressor troops were attacked on Chinese territory.


The textbook also shovels responsibility to China for Japan's occupation and brutal colonial rule of China's three northeastern provinces -- Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning, which are rich in natural resources.


Japan had to take control of the provinces as "an anti-Japanese campaign intensified" at that time, it says.


The notorious Nanking (Nanjing) Massacre, which wiped out 300,000 Chinese lives, in this book turns out to be an incident shrouded in doubts and controversy, "as evidence is not strong and opinions on it vary."


What is more, the textbook suggests Taiwan does not belong to China and the atrocities perpetrated by Japan in other Asian countries were for "the liberation" of those countries from the Westerners.


The new textbook surpassed its predecessor, in use since 2001, in bending history and glossing over Japan's war past. If passed, the new book will be used in Japanese schools starting April 2006.


Back in 2001, the endorsement of the lie-telling textbook triggered widespread protests both in and outside Japan. Asian countries, still feeling the pains they suffered during World War II, lodged strong protests with the Japanese government over its blatant attempt to warp the truth.


History textbooks are obliged to tell the truth and it should be compiled in the spirit of fairness and objectivity. Only in learning true history can Japanese youth be able to draw from those lessons and avoid a repeat of the past. Only by coming to terms with its unspeakable deeds can Japan shed its weight of guilt and move on to the future.


Regrettably, Japan does not seem to choose doing so. A textbook full of contortions will sow the seed for future disasters. Imparted with arrogance, prejudice and enthusiasm for war by the textbook, Japan's younger generations are in the danger of sliding back to militarism again if given the right climate.


It is worth noting that the new textbook is made public before the Education Ministry giving it the green light. It might be by coincidence that some Japanese government officials recently charged Chinese with conducting "anti-Japanese" patriotism education. Chinese schools should change its way of painting Japan as the black sheep, they said.


Lies in ink can never cover facts in blood. There is no denying the heinous crimes Japanese militarists committed against other fellow Asians in World War II. The proper attitude for Japan to take is to deeply reflect its past, plead guilty and sincerely ask for forgiveness of the victims.


Only by doing so can Japan win back the understanding and trust of fellow Asians and join in the efforts to build a prosperous and peaceful Asia and the world at large.


(Xinhua News Agency April 1, 2005)

Japan Urged to Face Wartime Past
Tokyo Urged to Teach True History
Tokyo Approves Controversial History Textbook
Another Japanese Textbook Distorts History, Experts Say
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