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Nakaima goes face-to-face with education minister

Date Posted: 2007-10-04

Okinawa’s governor delivered a petition to Japan’s education minister Wednesday, a demand Tokyo keep its hands off modifying historical accounts of the Battle of Okinawa.
Governor Hirokazu Nakaima met with Minister Kisaburo Tokai at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to press Okinawa’s demand historical accounts of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa and suicides forced by Japanese soldiers be left unchanged. Tokai directed textbook publishers last Spring to delete references to Japanese soldiers giving hand grenades to Okinawans and telling them to commit group suicides rather than be captured or surrender to American forces.
It was the first ever meeting between the Ministry and an Okinawa Prefecture Governor, and comes only days after more than 110,000 Okinawans staged a massive rally in Ginowan City to protest the government directive. Survivors of the Okinawa battle have long recounted incidents of the group suicides, which resulted in more than 500 Okinawan deaths.
Nakaima headed a ten-man delegation, including the speaker of the Okinawa Prefecture Assembly and local and civic leaders. Toshinobu Nakazato read the education minister the Okinawa petition adopted by citizens during the September 29th demonstration. “It’s a fact,” Nakazato said, “that the mass suicides could not have happened without involvement by the Japanese Army.” He added “the ministry’s order to modify textbook descriptions denies and distorts witness accounts.”
The Governor, meeting with reporters following the meeting at the Ministry headquarters in Tokyo, said he appreciated “the government attempt to understand Okinawa Prefecture, where the wounds of World War II are yet to be healed.” The education minister made no statements, and did not meet with the press.
Tokai, however, suggested Tuesday the directive could see modifications, but put the onus on textbook publishers to request further revisions. Five publishers are affected by the order that the references to Japanese soldiers’ participation in Okinawa suicides be deleted in new books due in schools next April.

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