JAPAN: Re-writing of history books

We are forwarding you an appeal from 12 Bishops of Japan, who are protesting the revision of history text-books. The newly approved texts give a positive view of Japan’s past, colonial invasion of the Asia-Pacific region. We have put their letter on our website, and it is available for you to sign online at:


The letter from the Bishops can be found at the end of this email.

The Bishops have also prepared an Urgent Appeal calling for various forms of action to prevent the re-writing of history in this manner. It includes very useful background information. Please read and take the appropriate action.


URGENT APPEAL: Stop Japan’s Ministry of Education Attempt to Re-write History (Pressure must be brought on the Japanese government to stop this kind of text from being an officially accepted junior high school history textbook.)


After his visit to the Japanese Diet [Parliament] along with four other ROK Diet members, one of the Christian members of the Diet in South Korea, Mr. Kim Young Jin, did a 6 day silent hunger strike in front of the Diet building in April. He was protesting against the approval of a Japanese history textbook . His fast was accompanied by \”Relay Hunger Strikes\” of Christians who sat together with Mr. Kim, and various Christian groups in Tokyo and other parts of Japan. Women group in support of the forced comfort women during the war also organized sit-in at the same place.



We are deeply concerned with the official approval of new Japanese History textbooks which,by presenting Japan as a nation centered on the emperor, and using ancient myths and legends as real history, can plant jingoistic nationalism in the hearts of the young. It also emphasizes the importance of the nation over the individual and exalts Japan’s invasion of Asia. Further, the Tsukuru Kai History Textbook is against democratic sovereignty, which is stipulated in our Constitution. It is also permeated with a similar ideology: the virtue of individuals sacrificing themselves for the nation and emperor, which clearly opposes the concepts of peace and human rights in the Constitution.

The Textbook Review Council gave correction orders to the editors according to censorship rules. The Atarashii Rekishi Kyokasho wo Tsukuru Kai (Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform) did accept, as instructed by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Technology,137 revisions in the history textbook they submitted. The Tsukuru Kai History Textbook then gained approval. However, Mr. Kanji Nishio, the chair of Tsukuru Kai, mentioned that \”our basic thoughts still remain\” in spite of the revisions. a question still remains; how could the Review Council censor what is no longer there. A glaring instance of this kind of missing piece of history is the Comfort Women. No mention of them appears in the reformed textbook, neither before nor after the so-called censorship. The purpose of the Pacific war is portrayed as the Great East Asian Sphere of Peace, an interpretation that Asian people who experienced Japan’s colonization, would reject. Some members of the Textbook Review Council wanted to reject the entire textbook and it is a great loss to historical truth that their advice was not taken.

Furthermore, to ensure students will be exposed to this view of history, the Ministry of Education has very cleverly changed who it is that select which text books to be used in the classrooms. Previously it was the teachers who made this choice, but politics has now transferred this selection to local education boards. We fear that ignoring what is happening now in Japan, will enable this very history to repeat itself. It is urgent that Asian nations and all peoples who have experienced the reality of Japan’s subjugation, challenge this new textbook and the kind of thinking that lies concealed behind it. We ask all who during the Pacific war, shared the reality of this history, to help us to see to it, that its truth not be lost.


Local education boards will decide before summer which textbooks to use in their local schools. It is possible many school teachers will be forced to use the distorted textbook and teach children wrong history …unless we challenge this attempt to re-write history…



Pressure must be brought on the Japanese government to stop this kind of text from being as an officially accepted junior high school history textbook. Particularly we appeal to our Asian co-workers and friends for your help NOW!


– Media coverage!

– Official protests by Scholars & Organizations!

– Awareness raising!

– Fax & e-mail campaigns! prayers & fasts!

– Public marches and demonstrations!

– Creative responses from every level!

We request:

– Scholars of national history to challenge the scholarship that would allow Japanese historians to present a nationalistic view of history as historical truth.

– Organizations to mobilize locally and internationally to challenge the Japanese government, and the Ministry of Education on their new version of Japan’s role in the Pacific war.

– Churches to remember those who suffered by organizing religious responses.

– Individuals to participate in local efforts to protest this attempt to change your history. Send Letters and Articles in newspapers, magazines, bulletins

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER



(1) Prime Min. Mr. Koizumi Junichiro,

1-6-1 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN,100-8914

TEL: +813-3581-2361FAX$B!’!\(B813-3581-3883

( Comments can be sent directly from the following HP site)


(2) Min. of Edu/Cul/Tech. Ms. Toyama Atsuko

3-2-2 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8959

Tel: +813-3581-4211 (Reception) FAX:+813-3592-0409

( Comments can be sent directly from the following HP site)


Also, please send a copy to:

NCCJ (National Christian Council in Japan)

2-3-18-24 Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan, 169-0051

FAX: +813-3204-9495

e-mail: ncc-j@jca.apc.org



12 of the 17 bishops of Japan have sent the following appeal about the Historical Textbook to Ms. Atsuko Toyama, Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture:

Ms.Atsuko Toyama, Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture

Statement of Concern about Japanese History Textbook

On 3rd of April the junior high school history textbook edited by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform (Chairman: Mr.Kanji Nishio) was approved by the Education Ministry screening panel.

This book has a number of references which condone Japan’s history of invasion and colonial rule, and glorify the rule of the Emperor. The approval of such a textbook will certainly lead to the concealment, distortion and glorification of the history of invasions and atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Military. We are deeply worried such a situation might happen in the future.

We sincerely hope that Japan will start this new century filled with new hope by constructing strong solidarity with all the peoples of Asia, regardless of nationality or race. For this, it is incumbent upon we Japanese to strive in all humility for honesty in historical interpretation in words and deeds, and thus win the trust of our fellow Asians. Based on this attitude, Japan has to review its past, reflect on it, determine not to repeat the same faults, and cooperate with other Asian countries. We will never attain all these unless we make serious efforts to make our own the viewpoint of the Asian countries which were victimized by the Japanese Military in the past.

The historical viewpoint of the above-mentioned Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform creates a big obstacle to the achievement of the Asian peoples’ deep aspirations for justice, peace, and respect for human rights. Therefore we wish to express our deepest concerns about the approval of their history textbook distorted by their wrong tenets.

7th May, 2001

Cathollic Bishops’ Conference of Japan

Peter Takeo Okada (Tokyo Archdiocese)

Paul Yoshinao Otsuka (Kyoto Diocese)

Raphael Masahiro Umemura (Yokohama Diocese)

Augustine Jun-ichi Nomura (Nagoya Diocese)

Leo Jun Ikenaga (Osaka Archdiocese)

Michael Goro Matsuura (Osaka Archidiocese)

Joseph Atsumi Misue (Hiroshima Diocese)

Joseph Satoshi Fukahori (Takamatsu Diocese)

Francis Xavier Kaname Shimamoto (Nagasaki Archdiocese)

Dominic Ryoji Miyahara (Oita Diocese)

Document Type : Forwarded Urgent Appeal
Document ID : FA-04-2001
Countries : Japan,