MATSUYAMA, Ehime Pref. – The Ehime Prefectural Board of Education decided Wednesday to adopt a controversial history textbook, penned by a group of nationalist authors, for use by public schools for the disabled.
Ehime is the second prefecture in which the textbook, compiled by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, will be used for students at public schools.
On Tuesday, the Tokyo metropolitan board of education adopted the text — a target of protest from China and South Korea — for three public schools for the disabled.
The six-member Ehime board reached a unanimous decision Wednesday morning to adopt the textbook, published by Fuso Publishing Inc., which critics say glosses over Japan’s wartime atrocities in Asia.
Toshio Doi, chairman of the board, told a news conference, “We adopted the textbook because it is in line with our education goals to let children think of their own national culture and traditions from a broad perspective.”
Textbook ‘terrorist act’
The secretary general of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, authors of a controversial history textbook, on Wednesday called Tuesday’s fire in a lot adjacent to the society’s office building a “terrorist act.”
“It is clearly violence, a terrorist act against the Tokyo metropolitan education board’s adoption of the society’s textbook,” Akinori Takamori said after the fire, which scorched a window frame of the building.
The fire followed an announcement earlier Tuesday by the metro board that it was adopting the textbook for use at some junior high schools for physically and mentally disabled children run by the metropolitan government.
“We suspect it is not unrelated to organized attempts to obstruct adoption of the book in various locations. The second and third floors of the building are residential and there was a possibility that damage could have spread, depending on the circumstances. It was a reckless crime,” Takamori said.
According to Takamori, the office receives threatening telephone calls, faxes and letters on an almost daily basis, and staff members have been harassed in various ways, including having rubbish put in their bicycle baskets.
Metropolitan Police Department officials said the fire was started by an incendiary device they suspect was planted by radicals opposed to the junior high school text.
The text was approved by the government for use from the start of the 2002 school year.
According to police officials, no one was at the office when the fire broke out around 11:50 p.m. Tuesday, and the fire caused no damage other than the scorched window frame. Staff members left the office shortly after 9 p.m., they said.
The textbook reform group is located on the first floor of the building, about 500 meters from JR Suidobashi Station.
“Since we do not know the details of what happened, we have no comment,” said Kanji Nishio, chairman of the textbook reform society, which brings together nationalist historians seeking to revise what they see as a “masochistic” rendering of Japan’s war records.
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