UPDATE(JAPAN): Statement on Japan History Text


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-13-2001

Update on Urgent Appeal 18 June 2001 
UP-13-2001 (RE: FA-04-2001: Re-writing history books) 

UPDATE: Statement on Japan History Text 

Following is a statement from a conference to oppose the use of the new History textbook in Japan. The organisations involved in this conference are facing difficulties at home, and need your support and vigilance to ensure that the true history is taught. Please read their statement provided below, and see which of their planned actions you could particpate in or support 

Thank you, 

Urgent Appeals Desk 

No! To the Distorted History Textbook 
A Declaration and Action Plan of the Asian Solidarity Conference on Textbook Issues in Japan 


Nationalism, which attempts to justify past war atrocities and colonialist rule, is on the rise in Japan. The influence aims to make Japan into a nation which can go to war. Those who are deeply concerned about this grave situation as well as concerned about the history and civics textbooks published for this purpose, by the Society for New History Textbook (Tsukurukai), held “The Asian Solidarity Conference on Textbook Issues in Japan. – No! to the Distorted History Textbook.” on June 10th and 11th 2001, in Tokyo. Included were the total of 250 participants from ROK (South Korea), DPRK (North Korea: due to the refusal of entry into Japan, participated by submitting their papers), China, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan (including Ainu, Okinawa, and Koreans in Japan). 

During the two-day conference, valuable testimonies were shared from the stand point of the “comfort women” who were forced to become sex slaves of the Japanese military, survivors of village massacres who experienced unimaginable suffering during the war with Japan, Ainu people, Okinawan and Koreans in Japan. We exchanged our ideas and opinions on how we can take joint action to prevent the adoption of the Tsukurukai textbooks and to establish new visions of history education for the future. We declare that we strengthen solidarity among Asian people in order to achieve these two aims. 

The criticism has been on the rise about the Tsukurukai textbook in Japan and more than 300 nationwide meetings on the textbook issue have been held this year. The Korean and Chinese Governments have already made demands to the Japanese Government to make corrections on the Tsukurukai textbook that passed official screening. In addition a member of the Korean Parliament, and former “comfort women” did a sit-in in front of the Diet building to protest against the Japanese Government. And there have been other protests voiced from various countries around Asia. This simply and clearly implies how dangerous the Tsukurukai textbooks are for people in Asia. 

The first problem with the Tsukurukai history textbook is its attempts to justify Japan’s aggression and invasion as a war of liberation, liberating Asia from Western colonialist rule. It legitimates its own colonialist rule by pointing out that other Asian countries benefited by their rule. Second, it is written by Emperor’s historical view (kokokushikan): instead of pursuing the responsibility of the emperor for the war, it in fact glorifies the emperor. Third, it questions the actuality of the Massacre of Nanjing, and erases from its records any mention of the Japanese military sexual slavery system, which was largest war violence in the 20th century (the Comfort Women System), (the editor stated that writing about the “Comfort Women” was like writing about the history of the toilet – adding insult to insult). Fourth, the subject of history is portrayed as the nation-state and the people and minorities are absent and not represented. Fifth, it defends the family system, and emphasizes the “good wife, wise mother” mold of traditional gender role-based division of labor, thereby revealing a discriminatory attitude toward women. In other words, it is a self-race centered, nation state centered, power politics centered, male chauvinistic view of history that pervades its pages. 

Such a view of history can also be seen in the Tsukurukai civics textbook. First it unabashedly calls for the need to build a nation that can go to war, by revising the constitution, glorifying the Self-Defense Force, encouraging overseas dispatchment of forces, insisting on the right to “collective self-defense”, emphasizing the threat of DPRK (North Korea) and China, teaching respect for the national anthem and flag and national interest and national order, insisting on the obligation to protect one’s own nation from outside aggression, and affirmation of the need for nuclear armament. Second, in order to create a militaristic nation, it plays down the rights and freedoms of individual citizens, lifting up the priorities of public welfare. It sees family unity as more important than the individual. It discriminates and looks down on foreigners and minorities. And it takes a hostile position toward citizens’ movements, placing national interest over human rights. They proclaim a nation centered, anti-foreign, and racist philosophy. Third, there is no sensitivity to the violence done toward women, or honoring human rights and male-female equality education, thereby revealing its discrimination toward women. 

These history and civics textbooks need to be understood together. An understanding of history based on the legitimization of past war aggressions in the history textbooks, leads to the affirmation of war in the civic textbooks. These textbooks also are contrary to the spirits of UN Human Rights Law such as UN Covenant on Human Rights and other UN Recommendations. We can not estimate what could be the impact of these distorted textbooks upon children. 

Along with the move of revision for Education Basic Law and Constitution and planned official visit of Yasukuni shrine under the Koizumi cabinet, the Tsukurukai textbook issue is another step to build a nation that can go to war. And unless there is some way with the cooperation of people beyond national boundaries in Asia, to put a stop to the growing nationalism in Japan, this could spell danger and bring more atrocities and damages to other Asian countries. 

The dangerous nationalism, however, spreads and provokes conflicts and violence all over the world as a counteraction of globalization. We need to stop this occurrence in Asia. To this end, we need to examine history in our own countries, to bring education back to people from the power of the nation and to promote history education for peace. 

First, we strongly protest to the Japanese government for allowing the Tsukurukai textbook to pass the screening process. And we hold the Japanese government accountable for passing these textbooks which clearly contradict the recent official Japanese government policies reflected in speech done by Chief Cabinet Secretary, Miyazawa and “the provision concerning neighboring countries” (1982), the 1995 speech by former Prime Minister Murayama, the 1998 Japan-Korea Joint Declaration and the Japan-China Joint Declaration of the same year. And we strongly demand that the Japanese government sincerely consider and comply with the demands for corrections presented by the ROK (South Korea) and China. 

Second, we are committed to a joint action in Japan and in other Asian countries, to oppose the adoption of Tsukurukai textbooks by any local Committee of Education for use in the classrooms. 

Third, we strongly desire that we work together toward creating an Asia of peace and human rights for all, on the basis of trust and reconciliation. And we commit ourselves to creating the kind of history textbooks that will help to nurture children who will be able to take on such a role in the future. Toward this end we commit ourselves to work together. 

In order to reach these goals, we agree to form the Asia Network on History Education (tentative name) and propose the following action plan: 

Action Plan 

(I) To stop adoption of Tsukurukai textbooks 
1. In the community 
– To work on local Committee of Education: Signature, letter and post card campaign. 
– To visit Exhibitions of the textbooks: State your opinion in questionnaire. 
– To demand to open the adoption process to the public. 
– To request and file a petition with local government. 
– To organize a movement to comparatively read Tsukurukai Textbook and other textbooks.
– To organize various meetings on textbook issues. 
– To create a citizen’s network. 
– To demand to include history education into human rights and international education of the local government. 
2. In the schools 
– To talk with the principal and to discuss among teachers. 
– To take up the issues at the PTA 
– To make linkages between citizens and teachers. 
3. On the national level 
– To countermeasure to mass media: Inserted newspaper ad and opinion ad. Support good articles and protest against bad articles 
4. Throughout Asia 
– Sit-in demonstrations on every Friday. 
– Protest against the Japanese Embassy in each country. 
– To demand our own government to work on the Japanese government. 
5. Solidarity in the Asia Pacific Region 
– Joint signature campaign in Asia. 
– Linkage among sister cities and friendship cities. 
– Communicate information through e-mail. 
– Simultaneous Cyber campaign (toward ministry of education, culture, sports and technology) 
– Create a home page site. 
6. Through international organizations on a global basis 
– Appeal to UN agencies such as UN Human Rights Commission, ILO and UNESCO in cooperation with other NGOs. 
– Communicate with global NGO networks. 

(II) To establish history education to create a common future of Asia 

1. From a gender based perspective. 
– To make linkages between women’s movement and movement of textbook issues. 
– Put a description of ” comfort women ” back into all the textbooks. 
– Common History textbook from a gender based perspective. 

2. As historian and scholars of education. 
– Review the history of our own country described in government authorized textbook. 
– To ask academic society of Korean, Asian, and Japanese history for possible actions. 
– To write a history of local community. 

3. International cooperation of history education 
– Exchange programs of pupils, students, teachers and scholars in Asia. (joint classes) 
– Exchange programs for ordinary citizens (study tours, etc) 
– Joint production of a supplementary reader of history with reference to history textbooks in different Asian countries. 
– Symposium on Japan related description in textbooks in different countries and compile report. 

3. International campaign 
– Pursue the responsibility of those companies, which sponsor the Tsukurukai textbook: Publicize the names of companies, boycott campaign against their products. 
– Movement against Japan to become permanent member of UN Security Council. 
– Review bilateral agreements such as Japan Korea Joint Agreement. 

June 11th, 2001 
Tokyo, Japan. 

Participants of “The Asian Solidarity Conference on Textbook Issues in Japan 
-No! to the Distorted History Textbook.” 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-13-2001
Countries : Asia,