Plunge Pontificates

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Textbook Screening

You would think, from listening to some people, that this is a recent problem. It actually goes back a long way.

Appearing on a TV program Sunday on Japan's China policy and other issues, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe commented on a 1982 controversy over the rewriting of Japanese history in school textbooks. The gist of Abe's comment was this: In 1982, the then education ministry's textbook screening council put pressure on the author of a social studies textbook to replace the word "shinryaku" (invasion) with "shinshutsu" (advance).

When this was reported by the media, China and South Korea raised an outcry. In response, the government effectively verified the media report in a statement by the then-chief Cabinet secretary and apologized to Beijing and Seoul. But, Abe stressed last Sunday, there was no such rewriting of the textbook, and that the government should have checked the facts more carefully before it issued the apology.
Taken as that, it is understandable. But would it shock anyone to know that Shinzo Abe is conveniently ignoring certain realities?

But the issue we are making here is that the government at the time was anything but tolerant of any textbook author who discussed Japan's "shinryaku" of China. In fact, with the China issue alone, there were four entries in textbooks where "shinryaku" had to be deleted or changed to "shinnyu," or "entry." As for Japan's military activities in Southeast Asia, there were cases where "shinryaku" was replaced with "shinshutsu." In the screening process before 1982, the education ministry council forced a change from "shinryaku" to "shinshutsu" in defining Japan's relations with China. With the results of the 1982 screening, South Korea also demanded corrections in passages that dealt with South Korea's independence movement.
So, while they got the certain instance wrong, the issue was exactly on.

Japan has been whitewashing their history for a long, long time.