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Textbook change protesters set September demonstration

Date Posted: 2007-08-23

Local opposition to the government's plan to modify high school textbook descriptions about the Battle of Okinawa continues to build, and a citizens' forum plays to stage a big demonstration next month.

The forum involves virtually all civic and political groups on Okinawa, and they are united against the Ministry of Education's plan. Peace Memorial Park in Itoman City has been chosen for the September 23rd demonstration, which will begin at 3 p.m. Toshinobu Nakazato, chairman of the Okinawa Prefecture Assembly, is the organizing committee chairman, with offices now within the Assembly premises.

Nakazato says 22 civic groups are part of the coalition, and will be involved in attracting more than 50,000 to participate in the demonstration. Okinawa Prefecture’s governor had been asked to chair the committee, but Hirokazu Nakaima has refused. Nakaima says, though, he’ll attend the September 23rd demonstration.

“We just want to put the historical truth back into the books,” says Nakazato. “Just one line stating that the Imperial Army forced many local people to commit suicide,” he insists. “We want that statement there as historical fact,” the Assembly leader says, because the new text completely whitewashes the role of the Japanese Imperial Army in the mass suicides by Okinawans at the end of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa.

The Ministry of Education has ordered textbook publishers to strike all references to Imperial Army participation in Okinawa suicides in textbooks to be used starting next April. The Okinawa Prefecture, Okinawa Prefecture Assembly, and civic group representatives have all met with the Ministry of Education to demand the revisions be cancelled, but the Ministry has refused. Many Okinawa municipalities have also drafted resolutions protesting the Ministry’s order.

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