The Suginami Ward board of education postponed Thursday’s vote on whether to adopt two contentious social studies textbooks that have been criticized for distorting history and glossing over Japan’s atrocities during the war.

The vote by the five members of the board was supposed to settle which textbooks would be used at its 23 junior high schools for the next four academic years, starting next April.

But the debate on the history textbooks, especially the contentious one compiled by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and published by Fuso Publishing Inc., became heated, and the board was unable to come to an agreement.

The vote on the history and civics textbooks was thus delayed until its next meeting, which has not been set, officials of the Tokyo ward said.

Suginami Mayor Hiroshi Yamada reportedly wants the contentious textbooks to be adopted despite strong opposition from residents who say the books teach a distorted version of history and worsen friction with Japan’s neighbors.

On Thursday morning, some 500 people staged a rally outside Suginami City Hall to voice their opposition to the textbooks.

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