Textbook publisher to delete, dilute ‘comfort women’ passages

Kyodo

A Tokyo-based textbook publisher has obtained government approval to delete depictions of “comfort women” and references to foreign workers forcibly brought to Japan, from its high school social studies books, sources said Friday.

The education ministry approved publisher Suken Shuppan’s November request to delete such references from three textbooks.

Suken Shuppan refused to comment on why it chose to cut the references. The textbooks were to be distributed for use this April.

Its previous political science and economics textbook said discussions have been held on issuing compensation for “forcibly moving” foreigners to work in Japan and for “military comfort women” during the war.

The new version contains no specific mention of forced laborers or the thousands of comfort women who were forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers in Japan’s military brothels before and during World War II.

Instead, the revised version simply states that some South Korean “individuals victimized by Japan during the war” have filed lawsuits in Japanese courts seeking an apology and damages.

In January 2014, the education ministry revised its textbook-screening standards for social studies and asked publishers to state the government’s official views or the Supreme Court’s decisions on contentious issues.

  • Ron NJ

    … and thus no one can say that the current government of Japan isn’t complicit in the whitewashing of history and attempting to sweep atrocities and gross violations of basic human rights under the carpet. Shame on them all.

  • Ahojanen

    This is no more than a nitpick. It is just one of publishers revising its textbooks. Many other publishers carrying comfort women stories are also to be approved while their textbooks are screened separately according to subjects and school grades. Thus I don’t believe “comfort women” will vanish all of a sudden from school scenes. We also learn history not merely through school education.

    Japan’s textbook screening process as a whole is more open and democratic involving independent experts. Virtually no “official history” exists (unlike in many other authoritarian regimes). The primary aim is to identify factual errors, not to intervene into interpretations in substantial levels The ministerial approval is also not final, as each school district committee select textbooks at will. Supplementary materials can be used at class.

    Aside from that, there is of course the fundamental question and debate over the comfort women. I don’t want to touch it this time.

    • Ron NJ

      So you wouldn’t have a problem with a German textbook publisher removing references to the holocaust from their textbooks? After all, many other publishers carry holocaust stories, supplementary materials can be used in class, and it’s not like “the holocaust” will vanish all of a sudden from school scenes. Aside from that, there is of course the fundamental question and debate over the holocaust, which I don’t want to touch at this time.

      See how ridiculous it sounds when you swap ‘Japan’ and ‘comfort women’ for something else?

      • Scott Reynolds

        One reason it sounds ridiculous is that the Japanese system of military brothels (horrible as it was for those forced to participate in it) is hardly equivalent to the Holocaust.
        One big problem here is that the textbooks in question are written in a very dense, compressed style that simply does not provide room for any real detail. They have to cover a lot of material in very few pages, so that means that many important topics are either omitted altogether or given very short shrift.
        I think the real solution would be to have a separate textbook (and a whole separate class, if possible) dealing with WWII, Japan’s war responsibility, and how it all relates to today’s Japan and today’s world. Trying to cram this subject into the standard Japanese history class, which is a survey course not intended to go into detail. is misguided, I think.

      • Oliver Mackie

        “I think the real solution would be to have a separate textbook (and a whole separate class, if possible) dealing with WWII, Japan’s war responsibility, and how it all relates to today’s Japan and today’s world.”

        If you mean devote one/a few period/s (= hour/s) to such issues at some point in the curriculum, particularly as the topic relates to dealing with people from certain cultures in the modern world, then you might have a point. If you are entertaining the thought that there should be separate subject which is part of the weekly schedule for say, one academic year, then I thing you are being unrealistic to the point of being delusional. There is no way devotion to such a topic, which is quite peripheral to the core task of public compulsory education, could be justified.

      • Scott Reynolds

        Devoting an entire year’s worth of classes to a course about war responsibility would be a bit much, I agree. What I would consider appropriate would be to incorporate some lessons treating that topic into a larger course on civics/citizenship or “social studies,” as it is termed in the US.

    • Bruce Chatwin

      “Japan’s textbook screening process as a whole is more open and democratic”

      More democratic than whose? North Korea’s? The UK’s? Singapore’s?

      “Japan’s textbook screening process … involving independent experts”
      Can you name some of these independent experts so that we can judge just how independent and expert they are?

      • Testerty

        The textbooks were reviewed by independent Japanese Nationalists #1 and Japanese Nationalist #2. Names are kept secret because they are independent.

  • timefox

    Read an American inspection report and a Japanese inspection report.

  • Testerty

    By the time Japanese revisionists get done, their history book will note Japan won WWII.

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    I honestly don’t know what to say, should I expect any different? Deny, deceive, cover-up, 嘘も方便ね。

  • timefox

    Instead, fabrication of Asahi Shimbun should be carried in a textbook. The newspaper isn’t right and a reporter doesn’t write an article of the truth, either. The thing should be educated tightly.

    • Bruce Chatwin

      The fabrication was Yoshida Seiji’s, not the Asahi Shimbun’s.

  • Tomamii

    They been doing this since the 70s ( see Textbooks in Okinawa, about Japanese Soldiers forcing Mass Suicide ) and whitewashing and hiding everything now under the State Secrets law.