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Tomigusuku demands textbooks stay faithful to Okinawan history

Date Posted: 2007-05-18

Tomigusuku City has issued a call for the Japanese Education Ministry to abandon its instructions to textbook publishers that they revise statements about Okinawans forced by the military to commit mass suicides during the Battle of Okinawa.

The Tomigusuku Municipal Assembly unanimously rejected plans for modifying textbooks to change the language explaining how Okinawans were made to commit suicide, and has appealed to Prime Ministr Shinzo Abe, Education Minister Bunmei Ibuki and leadership in the Diet’s two houses for reversal of the plan. The Okinawa city is the first to balk at accepting the Education Ministry’s directive.

The Assembly is demanding the original text descriptions of what happened during the Battle of Okinawa be reinstated in all textbooks, saying the Education Ministry is “denying historical facts based upon the testimonies of Okinawans who experienced the battle.” Local officials say they can “never accept” the Education Ministry directive because it ignores the suffering of Okinawans “who went through a cruel ground battle and were forced to make indescribable sacrifices.”

More than 200,000 Japanese and Americans died in the three-month Battle of Okinawa in Spring 1945, including a quarter of Okinawa’s population.

The directed changes in textbooks removed references to “by the Japanese Army” when referring to mass suicides by Okinawans, and changed the descriptions to remove references to local citizens being forced to commit suicide, substituting verbage that makes it appear to be a self-made decision by Okinawans. The Education Ministry had never before involved itself in rewriting accounts of what happened during the Battle of Okinawa.

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