Japan looks to airbrush history with textbook revisions

By Wang Mengru
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, April 11, 2013
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Japan is promoting measures which seek to revise Japanese school textbooks so that all references to so-called "comfort women" are erased, according to S. Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

Japanese Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura told lawmakers on Wednesday that Japanese schoolchildren should be instilled with a sense of pride in the country's history and the ministry will discuss the issue of textbook revision.

Shimomura was responding to comments by Rep. Kyoko Nishikawa, who criticized references to the former sex slaves in textbooks.

The stance is at odds with a statement made during the Miyazawa administration by the then-chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono. On Aug 4, 1993, Kono released a statement on the result of a study into the issue of "comfort women" a euphemism for women and girls who were forced to be sex slaves for Japanese military personnel before and during WWII. In the statement, the Japanese government extended its "sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women".

By contrast, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told lawmakers that school textbooks fail to "show respect and love for their country" and that it is imperative for educators to instill a sense of pride in young learners.

During his election campaign, Abe said there is no evidence that the "comfort women" were mobilized by force and called for revisions to be made to the 1993 statement.

Of the 19-member cabinet, nine, including Abe, are from the Group of Diet Members for Consideration of Japan's Future and History Education, which has consistently worked to remove all references to comfort women and the Nanjing Massacre from the country's textbooks.

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