The angry reaction of Okinawa Prefecture residents to the deletion of references in history textbooks to the Imperial Japanese Armed Force’s use of coercion and other forms of involvement in the mass suicides of local residents during the Battle of Okinawa has forced a change in the government’s attitude. In an abrupt departure from the past policy for screening textbooks, it was the government that had ordered the references deleted.

Some 116,000 Okinawan residents, including conservative Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima, attended a Sept. 29 rally demanding that the education ministry withdraw its rewrite orders. All 41 municipalities in Okinawa and the Okinawa prefectural assembly also have adopted written opinions demanding retraction of the orders. As a face-saving measure, the ministry will let textbook publishers submit requests to correct their screened textbooks so that the original references can be restored.

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