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Okinawa again demands textbook changes stop

Date Posted: 2007-07-12

An irate Okinawa Prefecture Assembly Wednesday issued a second resolution aimed at Japan’s central government, insisting it stop tinkering with history.

The Assembly unanimously approved the document demanding the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology reverse its orders to modify textbook accounts of the Battle of Okinawa. The Ministry directed in March that publishers rewrite sections of the battle account that said, or suggested, Japanese soldiers encouraged or ordered Okinawans to commit suicide and kill others with hand grenades rather than be captured by American soldiers.

The revisions are to be in all textbooks in schools beginning next April. Okinawa’s Prefecture Assembly issued its first resolution June 22nd, teaming with mayors of cities, towns and villages across Okinawa who don’t want historical accounts of the 1945 battle changed.

The Ministry has ignored Okinawa’s appeals, angering politicians and community leaders across Okinawa. The latest resolution states the mass suicides would never have happened without the approval and direction of the Imperial Japanese Army. The Assembly rarely addresses an issue a second time, but a bitter groundswell of irritation with the unresponsive Ministry is threatening to spread into a prefecture-wide protest. Already there is talk of rallies across Okinawa to get Tokyo’s attention.

Battle of Okinawa survivors have long recounted details of being told by Japanese soldiers what to do, and of their being given Japanese military hand grenades to do the job rather than be taken prisoner. At the same time, relatives of the former Japanese military commander on Okinawa during the war have filed lawsuits to have the offending passages removed from historical accounts.

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