Information

on the Outcome of the Japanese Government Textbook Screening
 of the History and Civics Textbooks Developed by the Members
 of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform
*

 April 3, 2001

 Statement drafted by Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21
 and eleven other Japanese organizations
**

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1. History as discipline

2. The Japanese foundation myths

3. The status of the emperor

4. The legitimization of Japanese aggression in, and colonization of, Asian countries in modern history

4a. Japan and the independence of Asian nations

4b. The colonization of Korea

4c. The so-called "comfort women" and the Nanjing Massacre

5. Prejudice against Asia

6. The evaluation of the state in the Meiji period, the imperial constitution, and the Imperial Rescript on Education

7. The stress on (state-centered) nationalism and disregard for peoplefs movements

8. The stress on the peoplefs duty to the state and to the defense of the nation

9. The stress on international tensions, the need for armament, and the affirmation of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty

10. The negation of nuclear disarmament

1. History as discipline

 

The first section of the history textbook, entitled gWhy We Study History,h contains a discussion that denies the scholarly nature of historical research and education, which is a critical issue. Because of criticism from the Ministry of Education and Science, the authors have removed from this section the sentence gHistory is not a scienceh (i.e., history is not a scholarly pursuit) and corrected some errors in its description of George Washington; however, the text retains the same fundamental position on the view of history.

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2. The Japanese foundation myths

 

Concerning the Japanese foundation myths, the authors of the history textbook have made minimal modifications in order to make the text appear not to confuse myths with facts. However, the section remains almost the same in its content and extent, still containing two maps of the eastward expeditions of Prince Yamatotakeru and the Jimmu Emperor. In practice, readers may well confuse myths with facts.

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3. The status of the emperor

 

The history textbook gives the order of successive emperors based on the Kotofu, a genealogy that regards the Jimmu Emperor (a figure in the foundation myths) as the first real emperor. It constantly refers to the status of shoguns as imperial appointments, even in the periods in which shogunates ruled the country. That is, in stressing that the emperors have always been the highest authority/power in Japanese society, the textbook obscures the actual power relations that have existed in the history.

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4. The legitimization of Japanese aggression in, and colonization of, Asian countries in modern history

 

4a. Japan and the independence of Asian nations

 

A section of the history textbook that describes the Russo-Japanese War contains a boxed garticleh consisting of comments on the Japanese victory made by leaders of independence movements in various Asian nations. The article collates convenient portions of these comments to stress that the Japanese victory was the first Asian victory over a European power and/or fostered hopes for the independence of these countries. The section does not refer to the fact that some Japanese opposed the war.

 

The textbook calls the Asia-Pacific War gthe Greater East Asian Warh (the Japanese governmentfs wartime name for the war, a term discarded in the postwar Allied Occupation of Japan) and states that Japan declared that the purpose of the war was the liberation of Asia from western rule, the building of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, and so on (without examining the truthfulness of the official announcement). A line reads: gJapanese victories on various fronts fostered dreams of, and courage for, independence among many people in Southeast Asia and India.h At the end of these sections, after a brief discussion of anti-Japanese movements in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and Japanfs gstrict policy in dealing with them,h the text again stresses that the war became one of the factors triggering the independence of various Asian nations.

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4b. The colonization of Korea

 

The authors of the history textbook have removed from the textbook some offensive descriptions, such as that gthe Korean Peninsula was located in such a position that it could become at any time a dangerous weapon constantly pointing at Japanh and g[The annexation of Korea] was carried out legally, in accordance with international principles of the time.h (The text for the most part uses the term gannexationh instead of the term gcolonization.h)

 

However, the text still legitimizes the gannexationh by stating that g[it] was necessary for Japanese security and for the protection of Japanese economic interests in Manchuriah (the textbook in essence depicts Korea as a country that could not cope with the threat posed by the world powers). Moreover, the text lacks an overall description of Japanfs imperialist intent, activities, and processes in the years leading to the gannexation.h Therefore, the nature and reality of the annexation of Korea does not come across at all. In addition, although it also includes a brief discussion of some oppressive Japanese colonial/assimilation policies, the text states that after the annexation, Japan developed Korea by building railroad and irrigation facilities.

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4c. The so-called "comfort women" and the Nanjing Massacre

 

The history textbook does not mention gmilitary comfort womenh (jugun ianfu). Concerning the Nanjing Massacre, the authors have added a line referring to many civilian casualties in the gNanjing Incidenth of 1937 (the text uses the term gincidenth instead of gmassacreh); however, the text still contains a line that questions the validity of sources about the gNanjing Incident.h In addition, the text includes a boxed article describing an incident that took place in Nanjing in 1927 in which Chinese nationalists attacked foreigners, including Japanese—a description which serves to legitimize the Japanese use of force in subsequent years.

 

In sum, the text does not clearly describe Japanfs past conduct as its aggression and colonial rule. It obscures Japanfs war responsibility and consistently includes descriptions that suggest other countries bore responsibility for the war.

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5. Prejudice against Asia

 

The authors of the history textbook have changed the section title gThe China and Korea that Continued to Sleeph; however, the content of the section remains the same. This is true also of other sections, such as gThe Position in Which Modern Japan Was Placedh and gDiplomacy with Neighbors and the Determination of National Borders.h

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6. The evaluation of the state in the Meiji period, the imperial constitution, and the Imperial Rescript on Education

 

The history textbook maintains a very positive evaluation of the (imperial) state of the Meiji period. In the sections concerning the Meiji period, the text takes a peculiar position: it holds that the Meiji Emperor's Five-Article Oath was the starting point of modern democratic Japan and stresses the image of Japan as centered on the emperor.

 

In the section explaining the civil rights guaranteed by the imperial constitution (promulgated in 1889), the authors have added a phrase gwithin the limits of the lawh to the sentence gthe Japanese were guaranteed various kinds of civil rightsh; however, they have offered no specific explanations with regard to what gwithin the limits of the lawh really meant. In practice, the civil rights of the people under the imperial constitution were severely restricted, but the text does not give any details explaining this aspect, thus creating the impression that the imperial constitution was a democratic constitution.

 

Concerning the Imperial Rescript on Education of 1890, the authors added a phrase clarifying that it was annulled in 1945; however, the rest of the text remains the same and the praise for the Rescript also remains the same.

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7. The stress on (state-centered) nationalism and disregard for peoplefs movements***

 

The history textbook particularly stresses the formation of state-centered national consciousness in its sections on ancient Japan. It also frequently emphasizes the state-centered views that have existed in modern Japan, including the duties of the people, the formation of nationalism in time of national crisis, and the view of the Russo-Japanese War as a war in which the very existence of the nation was at stake.

 

In contrast, the text does not refer to the lives of ordinary people until it describes the peasant rebellions in (late) medieval Japan. With regard to the movement for democracy in the Meiji period, the text one-sidedly stresses the overlap between Meiji government policy and the aims of the democracy movement, ignoring the peoplefs strong desire for democracy and for the improvement of their lives. It includes no reference to the situation of the Ainu (Japanfs indigenous people) and the oppression they faced during this period.

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8. The stress on the peoplefs duty to the state and to the defense of the nation

 

The civics textbook developed by the members of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform cites several constitutions of foreign countries to emphasize national defense as the peoplefs duty, a view which does not appear in the current constitution (promulgated in 1946).

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9. The stress on international tensions, the need for armament, and the affirmation of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty

 

The civics textbook argues the need for armament for and military response to international affairs, exaggerating international frictions/tensions in the contemporary world. For example, the item entitled gNational Borders and Emergencies,h one of the frontispieces, includes a photo of a Diet member landing without permission on the Senkaku Islands (territory in dispute between Japan and China). For another, in the pages describing the Hanshin Earthquake and the Self-Defense Force, the confusion and limitations of the United Nations, and the role of Japan as a great power, it includes arguments for the need for armaments and military response.

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10. The negation of nuclear disarmament

 

The authors of the civics textbook have added a reference to movements for nuclear disarmament to the first half of the boxed article entitled gIs Nuclear Disarmament Absolutely Righteous?h The rest of the text questioning nuclear disarmament remains the same, however. As a result, the rejection of nuclear disarmament appears as a concluding statement.

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 Note :

*The members of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform have developed two textbooks for junior-high school social studies: One is for history and the other for civics. In this statement, the sections 1 to 7 address the problem of the history textbook, and the sections 8 to 10 address the problem of the civics textbook.  return

 **The organizations involved are as follows:

Committee for Truth and Freedom in Textbooks (gKyokasho ni Shinjitsu to Jiyu oh Renrakukai)

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

Violence Against Women in War-Network Japan (gSenso to Josei heno Boryokuh 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 Japanfs 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)        return

 ***The criticism here basically applies to the civics textbook.   return

  

For further information, contact Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21 (Kodomo to Kyokasho Zenkoku Netto 21).

Address: 2-6-1-201 Iidabashi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0072, Japan
Phone:               +81-3-3265-7606
Fax:               +81-3-3239-8590.