Board adopts 'distorted history'

26th August 2005 at 01:00

A Tokyo education board is to adopt a controversial history book for 23 junior high schools which critics say whitewashes Japan's atrocities during the Second World War.

Written by right-wing historians who say past history texts were too "masochistic" in their treatment of Japan's wartime role, more than 6,300 students in Tokyo's Suginami ward schools will study history using the atarashii rekishi kyokasho (new history textbook) from next spring.

Its publisher, Fusosha Publishing Inc, has made no apologies for the fact that any mention of Japan's atrocities during the war, such as the massacre at Nanking, have been omitted.

The book, which at first had only attracted a handful of renegade schools, was published last year and has since caused a storm of protest from Korea and China.

Some material has prompted a diplomatic row, including the use of the term "Greater East Asian War of Liberation" to describe Japan's invasion of Asia, which caused 20 million deaths, as well as the book's lack of any description of Japanese war crimes.

Civil action group Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21 said in a statement that the book "distorts history" and "justifies and glorifies Japan's war of aggression".

The group also accuses junior high school history texts in Japan of glossing over the country's wartime history with sketchy descriptions of Japanese aggression, and says they fail to make any mention of the use of "comfort women" or sex slaves by Japanese troops.

A recent poll conducted by Tokyo-based textbook publisher Benesse showed that 50 per cent of 10 to 12-year-olds had never heard of Adolf Hitler or what he had done.

A further 70 per cent said they had no knowledge of wartime Japanese leader Hideki Tojo, who was executed in 1945 for war crimes and who had given the orders to bomb Pearl Harbor.

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