NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – The city assembly of Tomigusuku, Okinawa Prefecture, called Monday on the education ministry to retract its instructions to textbook publishers to modify statements that Okinawa residents were forced by the military into committing mass suicide during the Battle of Okinawa.
It is the first time that a municipality in Okinawa has passed a motion opposing the instructions since the results of the textbook screening process were released in late March.
The Tomigusuku Municipal Assembly unanimously approved the statement, addressed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, education minister Bunmei Ibuki and chiefs of the Upper and Lower houses.
It also demands that the original descriptions be restored in the textbooks.
The statement says the textbook screeners’ instructions “deny the historical facts, accumulated through studies into the Battle of Okinawa that are based on the numerous testimonies of those who experienced it.”
It also says, “It has been recognized as a publicly known fact that (civilians) at that time were placed under the forcible control of the Japanese military, and the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry acknowledged it.”
The instructions “can never be accepted by the people of Okinawa Prefecture who went through a cruel ground battle and were forced to make indescribable sacrifices,” the statement said.
The Battle of Okinawa claimed the lives of one-fourth of Okinawa’s civilian population. More than 200,000 Japanese and Americans died in the bloody battle in the closing days of World War II.
According to the results of the screening process, one textbook initially stated that “the Japanese army gave hand grenades to residents, making them commit mass suicide and kill each other.”
After the screeners took issue with the statement, saying it could result in misunderstanding, the textbook was revised to state, “Mass suicides and killings took place among the residents using hand grenades given to them by the Japanese army.”
Other textbooks deleted the words “by the Japanese army.”
It was the first time that ministry screeners had asked for such changes.