This is in response to two Dec. 16 letters, “Okinawans know their own history” by Ayako Hosoi and “Undue public influence on text” by Yoichiro Tamanyu. I largely agree with Hosoi and believe a great many Japanese do, too. Now change the word “Okinawa” in Hosoi’s letter to “China,” and then ask yourself why so many Japanese seem to understand how Okinawans feel about the treatment of World War II in approved history books while so few seem to understand Chinese sentiments.
Why do so many Japanese empathize with the parents of Megumi Yokota (abducted by North Korean agents 30 years ago) and want all sorts of sanctions against North Korea, yet see no need to pressure Japan’s government to account for the hundreds of thousands of Koreans who were forced to work as slaves in Japan’s mines and heavy industries during World War II?
My response to Tamanyu is that history is not an exact science; otherwise the estimates of deaths in the Nanjing Massacre would not range from 10,000 to 300,000. Tamanyu notes that the statement “During World War II, many Okinawan people were forced to commit suicide by the Japanese Army” was removed from a Japanese history textbook by the screening council. I haven’t read that history book, but why is there such a fuss over this sentence? I certainly hope the issue of Okinawan suicides is not described in just one sentence. More details are needed to describe what “forced” means.
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