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The New York Times
Japan’s Textbooks Reflect Revised History
By NORIMITSU ONISHI
Published: April 1, 2007
TOKYO, March 31 — In another sign that Japan is pressing ahead in revising its history of World War II, new high school textbooks will no longer acknowledge that the Imperial Army was responsible for a major atrocity in Okinawa, the government announced late Friday.
A Japanese junior high school student reads a history textbook.
The Ministry of Education ordered publishers to delete passages stating that the Imperial Army ordered civilians to commit mass suicide during the Battle of Okinawa, as the island was about to fall to American troops in the final months of the war.
The decision was announced as part of the ministry’s annual screening of textbooks used in all public schools. The ministry also ordered changes to other delicate issues to dovetail with government assertions, though the screening is supposed to be free of political interference.
“I believe the screening system has been followed appropriately,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has long campaigned to soften the treatment in textbooks of Japan’s wartime conduct.
The decision on the Battle of Okinawa, which came as a surprise because the ministry had never objected to the description in the past, followed recent denials by Mr. Abe that the military had coerced women into sexual slavery during the war.
The results of the annual textbook screening are closely watched in China, South Korea and other Asian countries. So the fresh denial of the military’s responsibility in the Battle of Okinawa and in sexual slavery — long accepted as historical facts — is likely to deepen suspicions in Asia that Tokyo is trying to whitewash its militarist past even as it tries to raise the profile of its current forces.
Shortly after assuming office last fall, Mr. Abe transformed the Defense Agency into a full ministry. He has said that his most important goal is to revise the American-imposed, pacifist Constitution that forbids Japan from having a full-fledged military with offensive abilities.
Some 200,000 Americans and Japanese died during the Battle of Okinawa, one of the most brutal clashes of the war. It was the only battle on Japanese soil involving civilians, but Okinawa was not just any part of Japan.
It was only in the late 19th century that Japan officially annexed Okinawa, a kingdom that, to this day, has retained some of its own culture. During World War II, when many Okinawans still spoke a different dialect, Japanese troops treated the locals brutally. In its history of the war, the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum presents Okinawa as being caught in the fighting between America and Japan — a starkly different view from the Yasukuni Shrine war museum, which presents Japan as a liberator of Asia from Western powers.
During the 1945 battle, during which one quarter of the civilian population was killed, the Japanese Army showed indifference to Okinawa’s defense and safety. Japanese soldiers used civilians as shields against the Americans, and persuaded locals that victorious American soldiers would go on a rampage of killing and raping. With the impending victory of American troops, civilians committed mass suicide, urged on by fanatical Japanese soldiers.
“There were some people who were forced to commit suicide by the Japanese Army,” one old textbook explained. But in the revision ordered by the ministry, it now reads, “There were some people who were driven to mass suicide.”
Other changes are similar — the change to a passive verb, the disappearance of a subject — and combine to erase the responsibility of the Japanese military. In explaining its policy change, the ministry said that it “is not clear that the Japanese Army coerced or ordered the mass suicides.”
As with Mr. Abe’s denial regarding sexual slavery, the ministry’s new position appeared to discount overwhelming evidence of coercion, particularly the testimony of victims and survivors themselves.
“There are many Okinawans who have testified that the Japanese Army directed them to commit suicide,” Ryukyu Shimpo, one of the two major Okinawan newspapers, said in an angry editorial. “There are also people who have testified that they were handed grenades by Japanese soldiers” to blow themselves up.
The editorial described the change as a politically influenced decision that “went along with the government view.”
Mr. Abe, after helping to found the Group of Young Parliamentarians Concerned About Japan’s Future and History Education in 1997, long led a campaign to reject what nationalists call a masochistic view of history that has robbed postwar Japanese of their pride.
Yasuhiro Nakasone, a former prime minister who is a staunch ally of Mr. Abe, recently denied what he wrote in 1978. In a memoir about his Imperial Navy experiences in Indonesia, titled “Commander of 3,000 Men at Age 23,” he wrote that some of his men “started attacking local women or became addicted to gambling.
“For them, I went to great pains, and had a comfort station built,” Mr. Nakasone wrote, using the euphemism for a military brothel.
But in a meeting with foreign journalists a week ago, Mr. Nakasone, now 88, issued a flat denial. He said he had actually set up a “recreation center,” where his men played Japanese board games like go and shogi.
In a meeting on Saturday with Foreign Minister Taro Aso of Japan, South Korea’s foreign minister, Song Min-soon, criticized Mr. Abe’s recent comments on sexual slaves.
“The problems over perceptions of history are making it difficult to move South Korean-Japanese relations forward,” Mr. Song said.
Mr. Aso said Japan stuck by a 1993 statement acknowledging responsibility for past sexual slavery, but said nothing about Mr. Abe’s denial that the military had coerced women, many of them Korean, into sexual slavery.
from the Library of Congress THOMAS as of March 31, 2007
Title: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force's coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as "comfort women", during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.
Sponsor: Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15] (introduced 1/31/2007) Cosponsors (77)
Latest Major Action: 1/31/2007 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
COSPONSORS(77), ALPHABETICAL [followed by Cosponsors withdrawn]: (Sort: by date)
Rep Ackerman, Gary L. [NY-5] - 2/14/2007
Rep Allen, Thomas H. [ME-1] - 3/28/2007
Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] - 3/9/2007
Rep Becerra, Xavier [CA-31] - 2/28/2007
Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] - 3/29/2007
Rep Bordallo, Madeleine Z. [GU] - 1/31/2007
Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] - 2/14/2007
Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] - 3/9/2007
Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] - 3/9/2007
Rep Clarke, Yvette D. [NY-11] - 3/28/2007
Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] - 3/9/2007
Rep Crowley, Joseph [NY-7] - 2/14/2007
Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] - 2/28/2007
Rep Davis, Tom [VA-11] - 3/5/2007
Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] - 3/29/2007
Rep Doyle, Michael F. [PA-14] - 3/26/2007
Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] - 3/26/2007
Rep English, Phil [PA-3] - 3/26/2007
Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14] - 3/9/2007
Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] - 3/26/2007
Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] - 3/29/2007
Rep Fossella, Vito [NY-13] - 2/14/2007
Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] - 3/29/2007
Rep Garrett, Scott [NJ-5] - 2/28/2007
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 3/5/2007
Rep Hare, Phil [IL-17] - 1/31/2007
Rep Hastings, Alcee L. [FL-23] - 3/28/2007
Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17] - 3/26/2007
Rep Hunter, Duncan [CA-52] - 3/5/2007
Rep Inslee, Jay [WA-1] - 3/5/2007
Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] - 3/20/2007
Rep Issa, Darrell E. [CA-49] - 3/5/2007
Rep Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. [IL-2] - 3/22/2007
Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18] - 3/6/2007
Rep Jefferson, William J. [LA-2] - 3/26/2007
Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30] - 3/29/2007
Rep Kaptur, Marcy [OH-9] - 3/29/2007
Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1] - 3/22/2007
Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13] - 3/29/2007
Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] - 2/28/2007
Rep Larson, John B. [CT-1] - 3/26/2007
Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] - 3/29/2007
Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] - 3/5/2007
Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] - 2/14/2007
Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] - 3/9/2007
Rep McCaul, Michael T. [TX-10] - 3/29/2007
Rep McCollum, Betty [MN-4] - 3/20/2007
Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] - 3/22/2007
Rep McMorris Rodgers, Cathy [WA-5] - 3/5/2007
Rep Meeks, Gregory W. [NY-6] - 3/6/2007
Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] - 3/28/2007
Rep Miller, George [CA-7] - 2/14/2007
Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 2/14/2007
Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38] - 2/28/2007
Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] - 3/29/2007
Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10] - 3/5/2007
Rep Pitts, Joseph R. [PA-16] - 3/20/2007
Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] - 3/20/2007
Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] - 2/14/2007
Rep Roybal-Allard, Lucille [CA-34] - 3/29/2007
Rep Royce, Edward R. [CA-40] - 1/31/2007
Rep Rush, Bobby L. [IL-1] - 3/22/2007
Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] - 3/22/2007
Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] - 3/20/2007
Rep Schiff, Adam B. [CA-29] - 2/14/2007
Rep Scott, David [GA-13] - 3/20/2007
Rep Sires, Albio [NJ-13] - 2/28/2007
Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [NY-28] - 3/6/2007
Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] - 1/31/2007
Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] - 2/28/2007
Rep Towns, Edolphus [NY-10] - 2/14/2007
Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] - 3/28/2007
Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33] - 1/31/2007
Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30] - 2/28/2007
Rep Wolf, Frank R. [VA-10] - 2/28/2007
Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 3/20/2007
Rep Wu, David [OR-1] - 1/31/2007
♪ 現在のオープンリー同性愛者下院議員のB. Frank氏とT. Baldwin氏は両方含まれている。
“The Japanese military itself newly built this system, took the initiative to create this system, maintained it and expanded it.”
The Saturday Profile
In Japan, a Historian Stands by Proof of Wartime Sex Slavery
By NORIMITSU ONISHI
Published: March 31, 2007
IT was about 15 years ago, recalled Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a mild-mannered historian, when he grew fed up with the Japanese government’s denials that the military had set up and run brothels throughout Asia during World War II.
Instead of firing off a letter to a newspaper, though, Mr. Yoshimi went to the Defense Agency’s library and combed through official documents from the 1930s. In just two days, he found a rare trove that uncovered the military’s direct role in managing the brothels, including documents that carried the personal seals of high-ranking Imperial Army officers.
Faced with this smoking gun, a red-faced Japanese government immediately dropped its long-standing claim that only private businessmen had operated the brothels. A year later, in 1993, it acknowledged in a statement that the Japanese state itself had been responsible. In time, all government-approved junior high school textbooks carried passages on the history of Japan’s military sex slaves, known euphemistically as comfort women.
“Back then, I was optimistic that this would effectively settle the issue,” Mr. Yoshimi said. “But there was a fierce backlash.”
The backlash came from young nationalist politicians led by Shinzo Abe, an obscure lawmaker at the time in the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who lobbied to rescind the 1993 admission of state responsibility. Their goal finally seemed close at hand after Mr. Abe became prime minister last September.
Mr. Abe said he would adhere to the 1993 statement, but he also undercut it by asserting that there was no evidence showing the military’s role in forcing women into sexual slavery. His comments incited outrage in Asia and the United States, where the House of Representatives is considering a nonbinding resolution that would call on Japan to admit unequivocally its history of sexual slavery and to apologize for it.
To Mr. Yoshimi, Mr. Abe’s denial sounded familiar. Until Mr. Yoshimi came along 15 years ago, the government had always maintained that there were no official documents to prove the military’s role in establishing the brothels. Mr. Abe was now saying there were no official documents to prove that the military forcibly procured the women — thereby discounting other evidence, including the testimony of former sex slaves.
“The fact is, if you can’t use anything except official documents, history itself is impossible to elucidate,” said Mr. Yoshimi, a history professor at Chuo University here.
The emphasis on official documents, according to Mr. Yoshimi and other historians, has long been part of the government’s strategy to control wartime history. In the two weeks between Japan’s surrender on Aug. 15, 1945, and the arrival of American occupation forces, wartime leaders fearing postwar trials incinerated so many potentially incriminating documents that the Tokyo sky was said to be black with smoke. Even today, Japan refuses to release documents that historians believe have survived and would shed light on Japan’s wartime history.
Although Mr. Yoshimi found official documents showing the military’s role in establishing brothels, he is not optimistic about unearthing documents about the military’s abduction of women.
“There are things that are never written in official documents,” he said. “That they were forcibly recruited — that’s the kind of thing that would have never been written in the first place.”
John W. Dower, a historian of Japan at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Mr. Yoshimi’s “extremely impressive” work has “clarified the historical record in ways that people like Prime Minister Abe and those who support him refuse to acknowledge.”
MR. YOSHIMI grew up in Yamaguchi Prefecture in western Japan, in a household with fresh memories of the war. He traces his interest in history to a junior high school lecture on the nation’s American-written, pacifist Constitution and its guarantee of human rights. He was impressed that the Constitution “even had something to say about a kid like me in the countryside.”
After completing his studies at the University of Tokyo, Mr. Yoshimi concentrated on Japan’s postwar democratization. It was while searching for documents related to Japan’s wartime use of poison gas in the Defense Agency’s library that he first stumbled upon proof of the military’s role in sexual slavery.
Mr. Yoshimi copied the document but did not publicize his finding. At the time, no former sex slave had gone public about her experiences, and awareness of wartime sex crimes against women was low.
But in late 1991, former sex slaves in South Korea became the first to break their silence. When the Japanese government responded with denials, Mr. Yoshimi went back to the Defense Agency.
Of the half-dozen documents he discovered, the most damning was a notice written on March 4, 1938, by the adjutant to the chiefs of staff of the North China Area Army and Central China Expeditionary Force. Titled “Concerning the Recruitment of Women for Military Comfort Stations,” the notice said that “armies in the field will control the recruiting of women,” and that “this task will be performed in close cooperation with the military police or local police force of the area.”
In another document from July 1938, Naosaburo Okabe, chief of staff of the North China Area Army, wrote that rapes of local women by Japanese soldiers had deepened anti-Japanese sentiments and that setting up “facilities for sexual comfort as quickly as possible is of great importance.” Yet another, an April 1939 report by the headquarters of the 21st Army in Guangzhou, China, noted that the 21st Army directly supervised 850 women.
Mr. Yoshimi went public by telling Asahi Shimbun, a national daily newspaper. The attention led to years of harassment from the right wing, he said, including nightly phone calls.
These documents had survived because they had been moved 25 miles west of central Tokyo before the end of the war, Mr. Yoshimi said. The postwar American occupation forces had then confiscated the documents, eventually returning them to Japan in the 1950s.
DESPITE the government’s efforts to hide the past, Mr. Yoshimi succeeded in painting a detailed picture of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery: a system of military-run brothels that emerged in 1932 after Japan’s invasion of Manchuria, then grew with full-scale war against China in 1937 and expanded into most of Asia in the 1940s.
Between 50,000 and 200,000 women from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere were tricked or coerced into sexual slavery, Mr. Yoshimi said. Thousands from Korea and Taiwan, Japanese colonies at the time, were dispatched aboard naval vessels to serve Japanese soldiers in battlefields elsewhere in Asia. Unlike other militaries that have used wartime brothels, the Japanese military was the “main actor,” Mr. Yoshimi said.
“The Japanese military itself newly built this system, took the initiative to create this system, maintained it and expanded it, and violated human rights as a result,” he said. “That’s a critical difference.”
Mr. Yoshimi said he was unsurprised by the most recent moves to deny the wartime sex slavery. He said they were simply the culmination of a long campaign by nationalist politicians who have succeeded in casting doubt, in Japan, on what is accepted as historical fact elsewhere.
In 1997, all seven government-approved junior high school textbooks contained passages about the former sex slaves. Now, as a result of the nationalists’ campaign, only two out of eight do.
“Mr. Abe and his allies led that campaign,” Mr. Yoshimi said, “and now they occupy the center of political power.”
Japan downplays wartime suicides
By Hiroko Tabuchi
Published March 31, 2007
TOKYO -- The Japanese government ordered changes Friday to seven history textbooks describing how the Japanese army forced civilians to commit mass suicide at the end of World War II, the country's latest effort to soften brutal accounts of its wartime conduct.
The high school textbooks say the army -- faced with an impending U.S. invasion in 1945 -- handed out grenades to residents on the southern island of Okinawa and ordered them to kill themselves rather than surrender to the Americans.
The Education Ministry said there was no definitive evidence that the suicides were ordered by the army. The publishers were asked to modify the relevant passages and submit the changes for approval by a government-appointed panel.
"There are divergent views of whether or not the suicides were ordered by the army, and no proof to say either way. So it would be misleading to say the army was responsible," said Yumiko Tomimori, a ministry official.
Since taking office in September, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promoted national pride and sought to distance Japan from its post-World War II guilt. His conservative government has bolstered Japan's international military role and amended the constitution to require schools to teach patriotism.
On Friday, Tokyo's education board said it had punished 35 teachers for not standing up to honor the national anthem -- seen by some as a symbol of Japan's military past -- during graduation ceremonies. Three of the teachers will be suspended for up to six months, 12 received pay cuts and 20 were given warnings.
The "Kimigayo" song was adopted as the national anthem in 1999, and four years later, Tokyo's conservative government ordered teachers to honor it during school ceremonies.
The battle in Okinawa raged from late March through June 1945, leaving more than 200,000 civilians and soldiers dead and speeding the collapse of Japan's defenses.
Accounts of forced group suicides on Okinawa have been backed up by historical research and testimony from victims' relatives. Historians say government propaganda led civilians to believe U.S. soldiers would commit atrocities, resulting in many killing themselves to avoid capture.
But in recent years, some academics have questioned whether the suicides were forced, part of the wider push by conservatives to soften criticism of Japan's wartime conduct.
Survivors of the battle criticized the revisions.
"If the [Japanese] soldiers hadn't come, people wouldn't have killed themselves," Fumiko Miyamura, a woman who said she witnessed a group suicide on Okinawa, told public broadcaster NHK. "Are they trying to make us forget about the war?"
Abe set off a storm earlier this month when he said there was no evidence that Japan's army forced women to work in military brothels during World War II. Historians estimate as many as 200,000 women, mostly Chinese and Korean, were forced into prostitution by the military.
Most textbooks approved Friday touched on Japan's wartime brothels but did not discuss whether the women were coerced or whether the Japanese military was involved, Kyodo News agency reported.
Abe's comments backtracked from a 1993 government admission that the Japanese military forced women into prostitution. On Monday, he tried to quell the backlash with an apology to the victims, but stopped short of acknowledging that thousands were forced into sexual slavery.
On Saturday, a private Japanese fund set up in 1995 to help "comfort women" will expire, wrapping up a mission seen as falling short of expectations.
The Asian Women's Fund was created to provide compensation and to heal wounds from Japan's often brutal expansion through the region during the war. But many victims rejected the aid because it neither came directly from the government nor was accompanied by an official apology.
The New York Times
April 1, 2007
Japan’s Whaling Obsession
Humans should be careful when criticizing other humans about the industrial slaughter of animal species. It is hard to find moral ground.
There was one small, bright spot of global consensus: whales. It took a very long time, but most of the world agreed that these wonderful, sociable mammals, at least, should be granted a stay of extinction. Most of the world, but not all. A few outlying countries continue commercial or dubiously scientific whale hunts, notably Japan, which clings to its whaling ways long past the expiration of any defensible reasons for doing so.
Japanese officials defend the slaughter as a matter of tradition and science. But as Norimitsu Onishi explained recently in The Times, the everyday consumption of whale meat became a national habit in Japan only in the lean years after World War II, when officials of the American occupation promoted it as cheap protein. Japan’s appetite for whale plummeted after the 1960s and never returned, Mr. Onishi reported.
As for the research that Japan insists can be performed only on dead whales, which are then butchered and sold for meat, biologists around the globe dismiss that as a sham.
Still, nationalism seems hard-wired into Japan’s insistence on maintaining the right to exploit any and all ocean resources; its continual efforts to end the international moratorium on commercial whaling; and its reluctance to bow to what many Japanese see as the late-blooming sanctimony of nations like the United States.
Revulsion at whaling may take hold in Japan someday, but it will have to spring from the Japanese, perhaps among the many tourists who go to Hawaii this time of year, when the gentle humpbacks breach and calve under the gaze of people who can no longer imagine slaughtering them.