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Tokyo up to its tricks again revising history textbooks: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-09-13 20:08

On Aug 14, 1991, Republic of Korea citizen Kim Hak-sun, became the first woman forced into sex slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II to testify in public, exposing the dark past the Japanese government had been trying to bury in full earnest.

In July 1992, then Japanese chief secretary of cabinet Koichi Kato, acknowledged the existence of "comfort stations" and "comfort women", and offered a "sincere apology and remorse to all those who have suffered ..." In August 1993, his successor Yohei Kono confirmed the Japanese military's involvement in the establishment and management of those facilities as well as the coerciveness of the "recruitment" and retention of "comfort women".

In 1982, then chief secretary of cabinet Kiichi Miyazawa put forward the "close-neighbors clause" of "not provoking neighboring countries" on the textbook issue, and promised "the Japanese government will correct contents recorded in textbooks in a responsible manner". A subsequent principle in Japanese textbook examination and approval stipulated the necessity to consider corresponding international understanding of and cooperation on related historical facts when and where they involved neighboring countries.

Those used to be guardrails that made sure despite Tokyo's notorious reluctance to squarely face history, Japan's relations with neighboring countries wouldn't be derailed.

But the latest move the Japanese government has taken on textbooks may effectively render those guardrails useless.

The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has outrageously approved five publishers' "applications" to delete or change expressions concerning the controversial issues of World War II-era "comfort women" and forced labor in textbooks for middle and high schools.

In a total of 29 textbooks, including middle and high school geography and history textbooks, the current expression of "comfort women affiliated to the military" will be changed to "comfort women", "so-called comfort women", or simply removed. Such descriptions as "capture by force", and "carry off by force" will be replaced by "forced mobilization" and "conscription".

This latest attempt to whitewash Japanese wartime atrocities again highlights Japanese rightist politicians' dishonesty regarding history, and will further poison relations with Japan's neighbors.

Since the Shinzo Abe government challenged the "Kono Statement" and deleted the 1982 "close-neighbors clause", Japanese politicians today no longer seem to care much about the feelings of their neighbors. They are single-mindedly bent on pushing their version of history as long as they believe it helps to present to the rest of the world a "normal" Japan. They determined in April to revise the textbooks, arguing that the present narrative may "lead to misunderstandings".

Feeding their country's younger generations disinformation and a twisted outlook of history, however, will result in greater misunderstandings, and create greater trouble for their relations with their peers in neighboring countries.

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