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Japan Orders Textbook Changes on Disputed History
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Japan's education ministry ordered high school textbook publishers on Friday to change descriptions of controversial wartime incidents including the Nanjing massacre, a ministry official said.

In a screening of textbooks to be used from April 2008, publishers giving only one figure for the number of victims in the 1937 Nanjing massacre were told they "did not make note of various studies," the official said.

Some right-wing Japanese historians play down the 1937 massacre in which Japanese invaders killed more than 300,000 Chinese men, women and children.

The official said publishers which had only put the number of victims as "200,000 or more" or "more than 100,000" were told to add more to text, while those giving multiple figures were given approval.

Japan angered China and South Korea in 2005 when it approved a junior high school textbook published by Fusosha Publishing Inc which critics said whitewashed Tokyo's militaristic past.

Fusosha does not publish history textbooks for high schools and were therefore not part of this year's screening, the education ministry official said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been trying to repair bilateral ties with China and South Korea, strained by his predecessor's repeated visits to a Tokyo shrine for war dead that is seen by Beijing and Seoul as a symbol of Japan's militarism during World War II.

Japanese and Chinese historians agreed earlier this month to take up the Nanjing massacre in joint studies of their war-torn history, part of the two country's efforts to improve ties.

(China Daily via agencies March 31, 2007)

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