War museum may scale back on Japan aggression

Kyodo

A war museum funded by Osaka Prefecture and the city of Osaka has unveiled a proposal to put more emphasis on air raids against the city, raising the possibility that display content on Japanese aggression during World War II may be reduced.

The Osaka International Peace Center has three exhibition rooms, with one focusing on the air raids of 1945, one covering the period from the 1931 Mukden Incident — often called the Manchurian Incident by Westerners — to the end of World War II, and one on the pursuit of peace.

In the World War II room covering the “15-Year War,” the museum addresses such subjects as Japan’s invasions of various Asian countries, Koreans forcibly taken to Japan as laborers and the Nanjing Massacre.

Since the museum opened in 1991, these displays have been criticized by conservative groups as presenting “masochistic” views of Japanese history.

Under the renewal plan, the museum would stop using the term “15-Year War” and instead present “displays focused on Osaka that would allow children to think about peace from their perspective,” according to an official with the museum.

It plans to present how people lived during the war, the extent of the damage, and reconstruction after the war. Specific content will be decided sometime during the current fiscal year.

The museum got about ¥84 million in subsidies from the municipal and prefectural governments in fiscal 2012, providing nearly 90 percent of its revenue.

The renewal proposal has been compiled by four supervising committee members, including Shinya Hashizume, a professor at Osaka Prefecture University who also serves as a special adviser to the city.