Plunge Pontificates

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Japan Continues to Skew History

I've been told before that the government of Japan only approves or disapproves textbooks for use. ummmm.... NOT. Not only are they making changes, their changes are likely to anger China and Korea even further. Lord I hate the current regime in Japan.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry

approved all 306 draft textbooks, mostly for first-year high school students, submitted in the latest screening. They will be available for use from next spring, ministry officials said.

In the screening of history, geography and civics textbooks, the ministry sought changes to 26 of the 40 references to the islands disputed with South Korea and China, the officials said.

On the islands disputed with South Korea, called Takeshima in Japanese and Dokdo in Korean, one draft textbook said ownership is being negotiated with South Korea, but it was changed at the ministry's request to say the territory belongs to Shimane Prefecture and that South Korea also claims it.

The original reference in the draft was included in a textbook that was previously approved, but the officials said the ministry asked for revisions this time so that the matter will be presented more "accurately" as there were more references to the territorial rows in textbooks screened this year.

Most of the history, geography and civics textbooks, excluding those on world history and ethics, included passages about the disputed islands.

On another set of islands claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan, the ministry similarly sought clarification in the textbooks that they are Japanese territory because "there is a need to explain that our country possesses them in accordance with the government's view," a ministry official said.

The inhabited archipelago, called the Senkaku Islands in Japan, is administered by the Japanese government as part of Okinawa Prefecture but claimed also by China and Taiwan. They are known the Diaoyu Islands in China and Tiaoyutai in Taiwan.

On the Nanjing Massacre, the ministry asked that references on the number of victims be made to present all possible views to "make it balanced."

A draft world history textbook said, "The number of victims are said to be 200,000 or more, but China has the figure as 300,000 or more," but it was changed to, "The number of victims is said to be 200,000 or more, but there are other theories as to the figure. China has the figure as 300,000 or more."

On Koizumi's controversial visits to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine, a draft textbook on modern society had a photo of the prime minister paying homage at the Shinto shrine in Tokyo with a caption saying he was making an "official" visit.

But the word "official" was dropped in response to the ministry's request that it be removed as it is not clear whether Koizumi's visits there were official or private and court decisions have been divided on the matter.

UPDATE: ComingAnarchy has what they say are the changes that were ordered by the government, courtesy of Curzon.

And, as predicted, Korea and China are not pleased. Word from Korea:

The South Korean government on Thursday sharply denounced Japan for "whitewashing, distorting and glorifying" its militarist past after Japanese officials ordered a series of controversial new changes to high school textbooks.

The unusually harsh protest centered on the disclosure this week that Japan's Education Ministry requested new revisions to 55 textbooks in an effort to avoid student "misunderstandings." The revised books clearly label disputed territories-- including a small island chain under South Korean control but claimed by Japan -- as Japanese territory. Also, references to the 1937 Nanjing Massacre were changed to indicate the number of people killed by the Japanese may have been less than the 300,000 victims claimed by China.
This goes along with the argument that I've offered before. Japan has been condemned in the past for allowing revisionist textbooks to pass muster. This anger has always been countered by saying the books are only used by less than 1% of schools. The problem though is that allowing these books has signaled and allowed a subtle change in ALL the textbooks. Now I need to go find the study, but it showed how all of Japan's textbooks are becoming more and more nationalistic.

No good can come of this and all it will do is continue to raise tension between neighbors. Japan has screwed up again.