An Upper House member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party raised doubts Jan. 24 about the government’s decision to authorize junior high school textbooks that include descriptions of military “comfort women.”During an interpellation to Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, lawmaker Kiyoko Ono said teaching about the women, who were sent to frontline brothels as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers before and during World War II, may have a harmful influence on youths. The descriptions, which have been approved by the Education Ministry, are scheduled to be included for the first time in history textbooks for junior high students in April.”I wonder if Japan has provided, and will provide in future, education for children in a way children could take pride in their own country,” she said. Ono said the current system to examine textbooks (that has allowed such history texts to be published) should be reviewed. Hashimoto did not make a clear-cut response to the question, simply stating that his administration will promote educational reform.Earlier this week, Education Minister Takashi Kosugi defended the textbook references to the sex slaves, saying the issue “can be understood by junior high school students.” Kosugi made the remark when he was urged by a group of intellectuals to order textbook publishers to halt printing the descriptions.The group maintains that there is no objective evidence proving the comfort women, who mainly came from the Korean Peninsula, were in fact taken by force by the Japanese military. But Kosugi said history textbooks are approved based on the 1993 government report on the comfort women, which states that a large number of them were forced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers.

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