Miyazaki tries to whitewash history book

Mainichi Shimbun, Sunday 20 June 1999

MIYAZAKI—The Miyazaki Prefectural Assembly on Saturday adopted a written opinion that demands the central government delete descriptions of controversial issues such as comfort women from school history textbooks.

The proposal, which was passed at 1:27 a.m. Saturday, demanded that the articles on comfort women—front-line sex slaves—and the forced conscription of people from neighboring countries to Japan during the Pacific War be deleted from junior high- school history textbooks.

It was the second time that a prefectural assembly has passed this type of written opinion, according to the Ministry of Education. In June 1997, the Ibaraki Prefectural Assembly adopted a statement that demanded the deletion of the same issues from junior-high history textbooks.

The Miyazaki assembly intends to send the proposal to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and other government officials.

The document states that it is inappropriate to carry, in junior-high textbooks used since 1997, descriptions about comfort women and the forced conscription of people to work in Japan because of the lack of established historical facts.

History education should be based on academic background, the statement goes on.

The 45-member assembly was split over the issue, with the 32 members of the Liberal-Democratic Party supporting it and 11 others from the Social Democratic Party and four other parties opposed, officials said.

The discussion was so heated that the regular assembly session, which had been slated to close on Friday, was extended until Saturday.

So far, six other prefectural assemblies have passed more moderate written opinions on the issues.

The Kagawa and Chiba prefectural assemblies adopted written opinions that demanded descriptions about comfort women and forced labor be corrected, while four others have adopted written opinions that say appropriate measures should be taken over descriptions of these issues.

In a separate development, none of the textbook publishers applied to revise their junior high-school textbooks for the use in fiscal 2001, sparing the Education Ministry the need to screen textbooks this year, it was revealed on Friday.

Behind the reluctance of the publishers to revise their textbooks is the fact that the revision may be effective for only one year because new textbooks will be used from fiscal 2002.

It doesn't pay to revise the textbooks currently in use if it's only good for one year. We decided not to revise the current textbooks, but instead, we are putting all our efforts to produce new textbooks that will be in use from fiscal 2002, said a spokesman for one of the publishers.

Their decision marks the first time that publishers have not applied to revise their textbooks by the April deadline.

School textbooks are usually revised once every four years in order to catch up with the changing times.

The revised editions are then subject to a screening by the Education Ministry before they are distributed to the schools.

As no companies have applied for a revision, the textbooks that passed the ministry screening in 1995 will be used in fiscal 2001.