A group of traditional right-wing authors of Japanese history textbooks (led by Kanji Nishio) has produced a history textbook which waters down Japan's wartime atrocities under the pretext of boosting national pride. This move has influenced the collective fate of the other seven history textbooks, which now seem set for a revision for the worse.
The textbook in question, now awaiting the Japanese Education Ministry's authorization, may be revised slightly in light of the vigorous protests from ex-Japanese colonies such as Korea and China. But unless a fundamental shift occurs in Japan's historic point of view, there is little hope of any significant improvement.
In particular, the issue of sex slaves recruited by the Japanese military, which is not even mentioned in the textbook, is in danger of disappearing for good. The Education Ministry can ask the publisher to revise a certain part of the textbook, but it cannot demand that new information be added.
On March 14, more than 50 civic and academic groups including the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan and the Korea Teachers' Union joined hands to launch a committee aimed at stopping Japanese textbooks from distorting history.
The committee issued a statement calling on the Japanese government to halt attempts to fiddle with history and to support honest history education. It demanded that the truth of Japanese aggressions be revealed thoroughly, and that the honor of the victims be restored. The committee also called on the Korean government to use all the diplomatic means available to put a stop to Japan's distortion of history, and to launch a complete review of the sections in Korean history textbooks that mention forced enlistment of comfort women.
The committee plans to join other Asian civic groups in declaring March 24 'The Asians Against Japanese History Textbooks Day' and organizing a protest rally.