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Japan asks U.S. publisher to ‘correct’ textbook’s ‘grave’ errors on sex slaves

AFP-JIJI, Staff Report

The Japanese government has asked a major U.S. publisher to “correct” a textbook containing references to “comfort women” issues, the Foreign Ministry said.

Japanese diplomats petitioned McGraw-Hill to change passages in a book used in American schools.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, part of the book reads: “The Japanese army forcibly recruited, conscripted and dragooned as many as 200,000 women ages 14 to 20 to serve in military brothels, called ‘comfort houses.’ “

The daily Asahi Shimbun reported that the ministry thinks this passage contains factual errors, but the ministry has not officially commented on the corrections it requested.

The book also says the Japanese military “massacred large numbers of comfort women to cover up the operation,” according to the Wall Street Journal report.

“The Japanese government, through an overseas diplomatic office, in mid-December asked McGraw-Hill executives to make a correction to the content of a textbook titled ‘Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past,’ ” according to a ministry statement published by the U.S. newspaper.

They did this “upon finding grave errors and descriptions that conflict with our nation’s stance on the issue of ‘comfort women.’ “

Mainstream Japanese historians say no historical records survived the war that can pin down the exact number of women forced to work at the wartime military brothels set up during Japan’s wars in the 1930s and ’40s, and their estimates range from 20,000 to 200,000.

Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a professor of history at Chuo University in Tokyo and a leading researcher on the issue, estimates there were at least 50,000 comfort women, hypothetically assuming that one female was allocated for every 100 soldiers, and that some women were replaced, raising the total by more than 1.5 times.

Right-wingers in Japan dispute this, and insist the women were common prostitutes. They say neither the state nor the military was involved in any coercion.

The administration under nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has embarked on a global campaign to right what it sees as the wrongs of global perceptions of Japan’s wartime violence.

McGraw-Hill Education confirmed it had been approached by “representatives from the Japanese government . . . asking the company to change the description of ‘comfort women’ in one of our publications,” according to the Journal.

“Scholars are aligned behind the historical fact of comfort women and we unequivocally stand behind the writing, research and presentation of our authors,” the publisher said.

Approaching a foreign publisher is unusual, but nationalists at home have pressed hard to get history reinterpreted.

Late last year, the liberal Asahi Shimbun retracted 18 articles from the 1990s centering on the testimony of a former Japanese soldier who said he was involved in rounding up Korean females to work in brothels. His testimony had long since been discredited, but the paper had for years resisted pressure to retract them.

Its about-face was greeted with glee by right-wingers, including Abe, who demanded the paper apologize for its part in the globally accepted view of Japan’s wartime record.

Tokyo has been angered in recent years over statues honoring comfort women erected by Korean communities in the U.S. and elsewhere.

And in December the government lodged a complaint with Beijing over a reference to “300,000” people who were murdered by Imperial troops in the Rape of Nanking, the Chinese city now called Nanjing, in a weeks-long orgy of rape and violence.

Chinese President Xi Jinping made the comment in a speech at the Nanjing Massacre memorial hall on Dec. 13, calling on Tokyo to acknowledge the gravity of its past crimes.

Diplomats protested that the figure is “different from Japan’s position” and that it is “difficult to determine the concrete number of victims,” sources told Kyodo News.

Since taking office 2012, Abe has pushed for what supporters call a less “masochistic” view of Japanese history.

While the approach is popular among core right-wing supporters in Japan, it does not have broad appeal in a public that feels largely disconnected from events more than seven decades ago.

It is also problematic for Tokyo’s chief ally, the U.S., which would far rather have Japan get past the issue and build better relations with its other key regional ally, South Korea.

  • http://www.deepaktiwari.in/ Deepak Tiwari

    So calling them comfort women is wrong, calling them other names is right?

  • Bwin51

    I do not understand why the Japanese cannot accept themselves. Denying what they did does just that. They should do as the Germans have done and memorialize their heinous acts. Denying committed atrocities only perpetuates the pain. No one is fooled and no one has the chance to improve. Healing must begin. Japan is a sick place.

  • timefox

    An American history fabrication principle person is a problem, too. Persevering enlightenment activities of Japanese Government are expected.

  • Firas Kraïem

    “While the approach is popular among core right-wing supporters in Japan, it does not have broad appeal among a Japanese public that largely feels disconnected from events more than seven decades ago.”

    Doesn’t matter. The Japanese public will remain complicit in this farce as long as they keep electing Abe and his ilk. Conservatives everywhere, not just in Japan, very much like war, because they benefit from it. But only in Japan do they have such a quasi-permanent grip on power. Makes you wonder if the “Japanese public” likes peace so much, after all.

  • Ron NJ

    The Japanese government’s stance on this whole situation is really disgusting. Always one step forward, two steps back, and once again here we are with Japan trying to whitewash history – except now they’re trying to do so in other countries as well as their own. Truly shameful.

    At any rate, kudos to McGraw Hill for having some integrity and backbone and standing up to the Japanese government!

  • At Times Mistaken

    Maybe a correction is in order but not the one Japan has in mind. Mcgraw-Hill ought to drop the whole “comfort women” euphemism altogether and just use the more accurate term, “sex slave.” That would be a revision for the history books.

  • http://batman-news.com labjmh

    Just imagine: Al Qaida approaches politely “Charlie H.” and says, “Please remove all your cartoons about our Prophet. They are not in accordiance with our truth.” And what reaction will AQ get from the whole world? A big laughter, of course! But it’s also a breach of freedom of speech!
    Abe Administration is obvioully smarter than the real AQ in terms of the Charlie H. attack. It could have sent terrorists or even Kamikaze-Ninjas to the american publisher. Nonetheless, it’s a breach of freedom of speech of the same quality.
    It’s eazy to silence the few Japanese dissidents – partly with the help of right-wingers, but stupid to try to mute all the mainstream opinios regarding the “Comfort Women”. Yoshida might have lied, but how could you ignore the cries of all the victims? What worries me most is the fact that nobody in the Japanese elite seems to be in the situation to know what the world thinks about. That’s what it happened before WWII.

  • KenjiAd

    What would be next? Will they (Abe and his revisionist cohorts) demand the American publisher to apologize?

    This is ridiculous. It’s one thing to express disagreement. They could purchase a full-page ad in NYTimes and say whatever they want to say about the issue.

    But asking a commercial publisher to effectively censor the content of their publications? Don;t they know that there is a thing called “freedom of speech”?

    As a Japanese national, I’m so embarrassed. I want to know who came up with this idea.

  • BrainOverBullet

    Why would Japan Government afraid historical truth? What bothers them??

  • Dipak Bose

    The practice was not restricted in the Japanese Army. American Army in Japan during 1945 to 1952 and in Korea in 1950`s also had Comfort Women. Previously the British Army and French Army in their colonies had Military Brothels. American Army in Vietnam also had that.
    Thus, it is absurd to blame Japan alone when Britain was the Ally of Japan in the First World War. and during the Russo-Japan war when Japan occupied Korea and Formosa with the help of Britain.

  • bumfromkorea

    I am not even remotely surprised. And at a certain point, the people who keeps voting these guys into office are going to have to take responsibility for the actions of their representatives. Considering that this is the third election victory for Abe, I’d say it’s high time we start asking just how “contrary” Abe’s historical views really are in Japan.

  • Dipak Bose

    How many Japanese and Korean women became sex slave in the hands of the American army in Japan and Korea?

  • Greek Boy

    Unlike Germany, Italy or Spain, Japan has never really confronted what they did. Sadly they were the worst of the lot.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Maybe the U.S. publishers can correct their “errors” when Japan stops calling the conflict The Pacific War and ignoring its alliance with the Nazis.

  • Karkadann

    Grow up and accept you crimes, you stupid, retarded babies.

  • http://japedant.blogspot.jp/ Japedant

    “Right-wingers in Japan dispute…”
    I stopped reading there…

  • Kochigachi

    I know why Japanese can not accept this because it’s very humiliating to them. Japanese rather face death over 70~90 years old atrocities than accepting it as past history and move on.