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It is now clear that the junior high school history and civics textbook compiled by members of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, which was the subject of both domestic and international concern, has received official approval from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology and will now be offered for adoption by schools.


Although partial corrections were made in accordance with Ministry screening recommendations, the fact remains that the general stance, which permeates this entire textbook, has essentially not changed as noted below.


1.      The Asia-Pacific War is referred to as the eGreater East-Asian Warf. This not only fails to recognize the fact that this was a war of invasion, but it also takes a standpoint that glorifies and affirms the war as one fought for Asian liberation. There is no reflection on the annexation and colonization of Korea, rather a sense of its justification remains. The fact of the existence of so-called ecomfort womenf is completely ignored, and there is only a one-sided account of the Nanjing Massacre from a standpoint of denial.


2.      Concerning descriptions in which myths are treated as if they were historical facts, while minor corrections were made, there is almost no change in contents or size, e.g., a map of gLegendary Emperor Jimmufs Eastern Expeditionh is published as is.


3.      Japanese history is presented in a way that suggests the authority of the emperor was consistent, while baseless contempt is shown for the history of Asian countries. On top of this, with regard to the points that seem to plant pride in a narrow-minded Japanese nationalism that bypasses internationalism, the textbook screening panel did not even comment on many of these points; whereby any notable change cannot be observed.


4.      Passages that look favorably on the Imperial Japanese Constitution and Imperial Rescript on Education that were abolished and invalidated after World War II have not been changed at all, and no mention is made of the suppression of human rights under this eGreat Japanese Imperial Constitutionf.


5.      The basic tone of the entries in the textbook, which emphasizes a revision of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, the obligation of national defense and service to the nation, has not been changed either.


Taking into account the reflection that history education was once used for military purposes, in the post-war study of history and historical education, Japan has respected historical facts that were scientifically confirmed. However, the textbook compiled by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform places emphasis on pride in the nation, service to the nation, and obligation of national defense by giving exaggerated descriptions of international tensions, without any regard to the current world climate, and by glorifying the war, distorting historical facts. Their intention is to mobilize Japanese people and children to future wars.


The Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform agreed to some revisions in the textbook because their tactics are, as a priority, to place this textbook in the textbook market and once adopted, to publish a more dangerous textbook reflecting their philosophy. We emphasize hereby that some revised descriptions in the textbook do not obliterate the potential danger of the Societyfs primary aim.


This is the first time since the end of World War II that a textbook, which regards with such hostility the concept born out of the sincere reflection on the war, has appeared on the public education scene, and this is not a matter to be condoned. Lately we have seen the Diet pass Acts related to the New Security Guidelines, and that the movement for a revision of the Constitution is growing noticeably. In this social climate a textbook that looks favorably on a revision of the Constitution has appeared on the public education scene. This shows that here lies a serious issue that will have tremendous impact on Japan in the 21st century.



To begin with, we must recall that the Japanese Constitution is an international declaration and an international pledge for non-aggression. Also, we must not forget this fact: with protests from many Asian countries against the suppression of the description of the Japanese ginvasionh of Asia by the textbook screening panel in 1982, the Japanese government added a clause to the criteria of textbook screening that describes in gregarding the handling of historical events in modern and contemporary history involving neighboring Asian countries, due consideration shall be given from a standpoint of international understanding and cooperation.h Moreover, in 1995 Mr. Murayama, the then Prime Minister expressed in his official statement apologies for gincalculable damages and painh inflicted to Asian countries. The 1998 Japan-Korea joint declaration manifests that git is important for both peoples, especially for the younger generation to further develop an appreciation of history.h These statements are a clear pledge the Japanese government made to the world. Seeing the global spirit for denial of aggressive wars, respect for equality of all peoples and the peace that has prevailed since the end of World War II, the Japanese governmentfs thought has, until now, rightly reflected such a trend. The Japanese government has an obligation to honor this international pledge.


However, the textbook compiled by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform contains descriptions that violate the international pledges that the Japanese government has officially manifested. Under these circumstances, it is only natural for other governments and their peoples to comment on the reaction of the Japanese government toward these issues, and we expect appropriate action from the government. The Foreign Ministry itself replied in the Diet that protests from the outside cannot necessarily be interpreted as intervention in domestic affairs.


We hold the Japanese government responsible for approving a textbook that denies the Japanese Constitution and violates this international pledge.


1.        It is another matter if the government decides to abolish the textbook screening process, but as long as this process for which the Education, Science and Technology Minister holds the authority for approval is maintained, it is obvious that such approval will result in the official authorization of the use of approved textbooks in classrooms. As it is, we hold the government responsible for the selection of this textbook.



2.        It is politicians of the ruling parties that were active in organizing nationwide political activities to have this textbook approved and adopted. Furthermore, it is the government, Education, Science and Technology Ministry and politicians of the ruling parties including the current Education, Science and Technology Minister that literally forced, under the name of gself-imposed controlh, to have deleted from existing textbooks the description of gcomfort womenh and the term ginvasionh by applying various types of political pressure. In this respect, the government must bear a very heavy responsibility. We cannot allow the government to evade a responsibility of this caliber.


On the contrary, politicians of the ruling parties openly cry for the cancellation of the international pledge by claiming that criticism from Asian countries is a form of intervention in domestic affairs. Unless the government clearly denies such a demand, Japan will surely repeat the mistake of walking the road to international isolation. We are determined to follow up on the actions of the Japanese government.



We cannot permit such a dangerous textbook that denies the Japanese Constitution and treads the path to international isolation to be handed-over to Japanese children. Now that this dangerous textbook has passed official approval, and voices of objection have been raised about the adoption of such a text in various arenas, it is time to strengthen our resolve against those concerned. With this in mind, we believe itfs about time Japanese citizens showed the rest of the world our good conscience.


Also, with respect to the question of greatly modified descriptions of aggression and colonization in existing textbooks, let us investigate how this was made possible and who was responsible for such actions, let us demand improved entries in textbooks, and make it happen. By so doing, we will be able to share common views on history with other Asian countries.


April 3, 2001


Committee for Truth and Freedom in Textbooks (gKyokasho ni Shinjitsu to Jiyu oh Renrakukai)

Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21 (Kodomo to Kyokasho Zenkoku Netto 21)

Advisory Committee for Discussing Social Studies Textbook Problems (Shakaika Kyokasho Kondankai Sewaninkai)

Violence Against Women in War-Network Japan (gSenso to Josei heno Boryokuh Nihon Nettowaku)

Japanese Society for Democratic Education (Zenkoku Minshushugi Kyoiku Kenkyukai)

Group for Supporting the Takashima Textbook Lawsuit (Takashima Kyokasho Sosho o Shiensurukai)

Society for Geographic Education (Chiri Kyoiku Kenkyukai)

Liaison Committee for the Japan Textbook Publishers Union (Nihon Shuppan Rodokumiai Rengokai)

Center for Research and Documentation on Japanfs War Responsibility (Nihon no Senso Sekinin Shiryo Senta)

Peace Boat

History Educationalist Conference of Japan (Rekishi Kyoikusha Kyogikai)

Committee for Monitoring Historical Truth (Rekishi no Jijitsu o Mitsumerukai)


Contact Point:

Children and Textbook Japan Network 21
F2-6-1-201 Iidabashi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0072, Japan



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