Japan Promises to Screen Textbook "With Consideration for Asian Neighbors"

Japanese Education Minister Nobutaka Machimura said Friday his ministry will take into consideration the views from other Asian countries, while examining a controversial draft on junior high school history book blamed for justifying Japan's wartime aggression against its Asian neighbors.

"In the textbook screening guidelines, there is an article requiring necessary consideration for Asian neighbors," Machimura said in a meeting of part of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, according to Kyodo News.

The article, which was adopted in 1982 after China and South Korea protested over Japanese textbooks' descriptions of their invasions as "advances," requires regard for the treatment of facts in Japan's dealings with its Asian neighbors in modern and contemporary periods in light of international understanding and cooperation.

"The examination will be conducted based on this," Machimura said.

Written by a group of Japanese nationalist historians, the textbook describes the World War II as the "Greater East Asian War of the Co-Prosperity Sphere," and contains no reference to the Japanese imperial army's inhuman acts in other Asian countries.

The original draft of the textbook touched only briefly on Japan's colonization of the Korean Peninsula and justified its invasion of Southeast Asia by saying "victories over the Western powers there allowed countries in the region to achieve postwar independence."

The group responsible for compiling the textbook, led by Kanji Nishio, a professor at the state-run University of Electro- Communications, maintains that current Japanese history textbooks are "biased against Japan" and "full of self-denigration."

China and South Korea have voiced concern over the textbook, which attempts to distort and justify Japan's wartime aggression against Asian countries.

The draft was submitted to a ministry screening panel last April for use in the 2002 school year, which begins in April 2002. Eight junior high school history textbook drafts, including the one in question, are currently being examined.

Machimura also told a press conference after a cabinet meeting Friday morning that a final decision on the textbook screening will be made around the end of March.

He said the ministry plans to release the contents of textbooks that passed the screening, their original drafts and views expressed by examiners around the same time or shortly after the screening results are released.

Earlier in the day, Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono also said he expects screening procedures will take into account demands about content from neighboring countries.

People's Daily Online --- http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/