Q.What does Japan s history class teach about comfort women?
A.Japan’ history textbooks are selected and authorized by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology out of textbook plans submitted by publishers. Schools choose one of the officially authorized textbooks and use it for teaching. Under this selection and authorization system, efforts for history distortion by the Japanese right wing have been deeply rooted. Japan, after regaining its sovereignty by the San Franciso Peace Treaty, included more subjective descriptions in its textbooks of historic events, such as its occupation of the Korean Peninsula, its invasion of Manchuria, Pacific War, and Nanjing holocaust. In 1955, Japanese Democratic Party harshly criticized the way history textbooks were written in its election campaign under the campaign pledge of the enactment of independent constitution, the establishment of the self-defense army, and the unification of national text books. In November 1955, as Liberal and Democratic party merged into Liberal Democratic party, Ministry of Education, Science and Culture swiftly made a retrogressive revision of the textbook system. It strengthened the authorization standards and started intervening even in the writing of textbooks, rejecting all the textbooks written by progressive scholars.
By the time, war criminals sentenced at the Tokyo court were pardoned and reinstated after Japan’ regain of sovereignty. They started appearing on the economic as well as political front, emerging as the main group behind the foundation of Liberal Democratic Party. This also greatly influenced retrogressive changes in history education in Japan. Saburo Ienaga, professor at Tokyo College of Education accused the Japanese government of unjust intervention in history textbooks in 1965 and 1967. In 1970, the court ruled the government’ intervention illegal, and Japanese history of invasion was again included in textbooks. However, as the highest court reversed the initial ruling of 1997, in 1982, Professor Ienaga filed the third lawsuit in 1984. In the final ruling, the text book authorization system of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture was decided illegal.
In June, 1980, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party winned landslide victory in general elections and began demanding a more tightened authorization system for history textbooks. In 1982, the Japanese right wing distorted its history by using ‘advancement,’instead of ‘invasion’and ‘protest and riot,’instead of ‘independent movement’of colonial countries, which provoked strong resentment from Korea and China. Moreover, in 1993, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’ history review committee insisted that 1) Greater East Asian War was not a war of invasion, 2) comfort women and Nanjing incident was a made-up story, and 3) efforts to revise the current textbooks were needed. Then, the Right-wing formed a group for new history books’in 1997 and declared to make new history textbooks to instill pride in students, criticizing that Japanese history textbooks had too much “masochistic view”on history. Particularly, the newly revised textbook written by the Right-wing blamed the U.S. for raising the sense of guilt of Japanese people while ruling Japan in the post-war period. Due to strong protest not only from neighboring countries but also within Japan, Japanese history textbook included its colonial rule, invasion war, comfort women, Nanjing holocaust, Unit 731, forced detention, civilian killing in Southeast Asia and other war crimes since April 1997.
In June 1998, Nobutaka Machimura, then the Minister of Education, said at Cabinet session, “history textbooks had a slanted view on modern history. They are under review for revision before submitted for authorization.”In January 1999, an official from Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology demanded textbook company owners for a “more balanced view”on history.http://www.hermuseum.go.kr/eng/sub01/sub0102.asp
In April 2002, this intervention by the Japanese government reduced the number of textbooks mentioning “comfort women”from seven to three. Only one textbook uses the term, “comfort women,”and the other two describe it as “comfort facilities.” In January 2005, Japanese Education Minister Nariyaki Nakayama made an absurd remark, saying that “Japanese history textbooks include so much masochistic expressions... Many textbooks say that Japan did only bad things... It’ a good thing that we see expressions such as comfort women and forced conscription less often.”History distortion meticulously led by the Japanese government led to complete elimination of the description of “comfort women”from all the history textbooks submitted for 2007 textbook examination and approval.