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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 15:22, August 30, 2004
Facing up to history to be concerned with dignity of a nation
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Japan's rightists rekindle the issue of Japanese history textbook. The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education approved on August 26 the textbook for use next spring at a junior-high school adjunct to Hakuo High School. The new history textbook for junior middle school was compiled and published by a Japanese publishing house.

The decision has aroused a strong indignation from many Japanese citizens and organizations. Dozens of organizations concerned with the textbook issue held press conference at Tokyo Metropolitan Hall, protesting against the decision by the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education.

Representatives of organizations and citizens pointed out that the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education brushed aside the wishes of the broad masses, did not listen to opinions of the professors and teachers present and made a decision in violation of the education basic law and school education law.

The new history textbook compiled by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform distorts history, publicizes "Japanese Empire History Viewpoint" and beautifies the aggressive war. The adoption of the textbook no doubt brings harm to the inexperienced youngsters.

It is reported that before the decision made by Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education only seven of the more than 600 written opinions sent to the board expressed support for using the textbook. The representatives with "Tokyo Network" in opposition of using the rightists' textbook said that the textbook described the aggressive war launched by the Japanese militarists as "great East Asian war". It seems that Japan fought for the independence of all Asian countries and covered up the fact that Japanese colonial rule and aggression did harm to its neighbors. It will undoubtedly turn youngsters in Japan into tools of extra-right politicians.

So opposing to handing the aggression-beautifying textbook over to children has become the goal for citizens and teaching groups. The textbook adoption rate has reached less than 0.1 per cent. It shows to the world that the peaceful awareness and intuitive knowledge are rooted in Japanese nation.

At the same time, it is not allowed to ignore the forces beautifying aggression and distorting history in Japanese society.

It is reported that the organizations that want to reverse the verdict of the aggression history include professors, educators, politicians and economists. With the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform as representative, these organizations are forming a "network penetrating to whole Japan". In addition, parts of big enterprises in Japan provide funds with these organizations. They also have agents in power organs involving political parties and Japanese Diet.

Since the boards of education in all parts of Japan have the right to choose and decide on what kind of textbooks they can use in nation-run schools, the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education, dominated by some people including the governor Tokyo Metropolitan Shintaro Ishihara, has become a "forward position" for the adoption of the new right-wing textbook.

The right-wing groups spread the words to public that the recent goal is to raise the adoption rate of the textbook to more than 10 per cent. Because of this they want to make a breakthrough in public schools with influence. In view of the new round of textbook approval in Japan next spring, boards of education in all parts of Japan will renew their decision on using textbooks. People worry that under the atmosphere of Japanese society going to be conservative, the possibility to adopt right-wing textbooks increases.

The disputes centering on textbook in Japanese society is the conflict and competition of two conceptions of society and history and of war under the new situation. The right-wing forces assert "history is not a science, the study of history is not for knowing facts, but for the study of the conception on how the past people to do things". They use this idea to whitewash aggression and under the cover of "restoring tradition and culture" sell an unsound augment that they are "justified in aggression".

On the other hand, the broad masses in search of peace will fight for Japan and their neighbors by looking squarely at history. Entering into the new century, Japan is trying hard for existence of reputation and to be a "normal state" when shifting from an economic power to a political power. Under this situation, what textbooks Japan will use for educating the young generation and how to summarize history correctly are concerned with a national dignity, certainly having influence on a country's future direction.

The question of knowing history not only reflects the development direction of Japan in the new century, but also has influence on the peace and stability of whole East Asian region. Under the background of seeking multi-win international cooperation, facing up to history, having respect for fact and searching for the common understanding of history will help Japan to win the world respect.

By People's Daily Online

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