Thursday, July 14, 2005

Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan and Bainbridge Island, Washington U.S.A.: Different definitions of "revisionism" but the same general problem...

Friends of Historical Accuracy regarding the ethnic Japanese Evacuation of 1942

Interesting piece from Kyodo News highlights problems with historical revisionism in Japan.

The difference is that in Otawara the textbooks whitewash Japanese behavior and on Bainbridge the textbooks tar American behavior.

The similarity is in Otawara the Japanese come out looking rosier than the truth and on Bainbridge the Japanese come out looking rosier than the truth...

Here's the article:

City opts to use revisionist texts
Closed-door decision sparks protests, irks teachers, Seoul

UTSUNOMIYA, Tochigi Pref. (Kyodo) The board of education in the city of Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture, chose two social studies textbooks Wednesday that have been condemned, especially by China and South Korea, for distorting history by whitewashing Japanese atrocities.

Otawara is the first municipality to choose the junior high textbooks -- one for history and one for civics -- edited by the nationalistic Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and published by Fusosha Publishing Inc.

In South Korea, Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry spokesman Lee Kyu Hyung issued a statement expressing "deep regret" and "disappointment" over the board of education's decision.

The adoption would "run contrary to efforts by (Seoul) to establish a future oriented (South) Korea-Japan relationship based on a correct recognition of history," Lee said in the statement.

The textbooks will be used by a combined 2,300 students at 12 municipal junior high schools for the next four years, beginning next April, city officials said.

The board of education followed recommendations Tuesday by the city's textbook selection committee. It claimed it found the texts to be the "most balanced."

"We are convinced that with this (textbook) adoption, children will grow up to have pride and love for the country of Japan," Ryu Onuma, Otawara's education chief, told a news conference.

Critics, however, say the texts play down the 1937 Nanjing Massacre and ignore the sexual enslavement of women for Japanese soldiers and depicts Japanese wartime actions as aimed at liberating other parts of Asia.

Speaking about criticism of the textbooks at home and abroad, Onuma said, "We are aware of the objections, but we hold firm that our decision is based on educational consideration."

South Korea and China have repeatedly said Fushosha's history textbook glosses over Japan's militaristic past.

The two nations also oppose the civics textbook's description of the Japanese-held Senkaku Islands -- called the Diaoyu Islands by the Chinese -- and the South Korean-held islets in the Sea of Japan -- known as Tok-do in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan -- as traditionally Japanese territories. The text says further that Seoul is illegally occupying the rocky islets.

The history textbook also is contentious in Japan for its nationalistic content, but already has been selected by a small number of public junior high schools run by the Tokyo Metropolitan and Ehime Prefectural governments, and several private schools.

The group that edited the textbooks welcomed the board of education's decision.

"It is a historic step that shows efforts to bring history education back on the right track have begun to take root," Hidetsugu Yagi, head of the group, said.

Meanwhile, a Tochigi teacher union slammed the adoption of the textbooks, stating: "We strongly protest against the adoption. We had called for an adoption of fair and transparent textbooks, but the decision was made at a closed-door meeting."

Citizens' groups here are stepping up their campaigns against the Fushosha textbooks as 583 districts nationwide must choose texts by Aug. 31 for use over the next four years. The districts are comprised of either a single school board or several, which will decide jointly on the new textbooks.

In Otawara, about 40 local residents demonstrated Wednesday in front of City Hall, where the board of education met in a private meeting to choose the textbooks.

The group was angry that the Fushosha books were chosen and that the decision was made behind closed doors.

"I do not want children to learn from this book," a 75-year-old man said, and a woman in her 50s said she felt the text contradicted Japan's history of upholding peace since the end of World War II.

According to city education chief Onuma, the board decided not to open the meeting to the public so it would have a peaceful atmosphere in which to decide on the new texts.

The Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, which created the books at the center the public maelstrom, was launched in 1997 to counter what it reckons are mainstream Japanese history textbooks that are "biased against Japan" and are marked by "self-denigration."

The society aims for its textbooks to be in 10 percent of the junior high schools nationwide. But its first edition, approved by the education ministry in 2001, was used by only 0.04 percent.

Update: Kyodo News Release

China says rightist textbook will 'poison' teenagers

BEIJING — China on Thursday criticized the city of Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture, for becoming the first municipal government to adopt a nationalistic history textbook for use by junior high school students, saying the textbook will "mislead and poison" teenage readers.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said: "The Japanese side should earnestly take a responsible attitude toward history and toward the future. By correctly recognizing history to teach the young generation, this can advance Japan's international image as well as Japan's relations with neighboring countries, which suits Japan's own interests." (Kyodo News)


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