In an attempt to counter moves to “denounce descriptions of Japan’s wartime misconduct in history textbooks,” 26 intellectuals set up a group Mar. 25 to protect freedom of expression and ensure accurate history is disseminated.

At a Tokyo news conference, core members of the group criticized Nobukatsu Fujioka, a professor of education at the University of Tokyo, who is a vocal critic of Japan’s “masochistic” history textbooks. Fujioka is also a key member of the Group to Make New History Textbooks, which has demanded the Education Ministry delete descriptions of military “comfort women” in school texts.

The current moves “are too dangerous to ignore,” said Toru Yuge, a professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo, reading a statement prepared by the liaison group “Freedom and Truth in Textbooks.” The group has already submitted a petition to the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, asking it not to adopt a different petition that calls for the deletion of textbook descriptions about military comfort women, who were forced into sexual slavery for Imperial Japanese forces before and during World War II. All the new history textbooks to be used at junior high schools from April contain a brief explanation of the practice.

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