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Okinawa leaders push Tokyo to reverse textbook changes

Date Posted: 2007-10-18

Okinawa lawmakers and civic group leaders have again appealed to the Ministry of Education to permit textbook publishers to return to original descriptions of mass suicides committed during the Battle of Okinawa.
Lead by the Chairman of Okinawa’s Prefecture Assembly, the 167-member delegation visited central government offices Tuesday to again petition the government to reverse its directive which ordered school textbook publishers to delete references to Japanese Imperial Army soldiers giving hand grenades to Okinawans and ordering them to commit group suicide instead of surrendering to American forces.
Publishers have been told to delete the offending descriptions in new textbooks due in schools next April. Toshinobu Nakazato says the meetings were more productive than a similar session two weeks ago. “I had a better opinion of the education ministry’s attitude this time than before,” the Assembly Chairman said, adding he’s been told the ministry may instruct a ministry panel to re-screen textbooks another time to determine if it made mistakes in its May decision to make changes.
Nakazato says “We’ll continue to protest until our demands are met,” because fewer Battle of Okinawa survivors will be around, and “we want to make measures from preventing this from happening again.” More protests may, in fact, be needed to keep attention focused on the government. The Education Minister, Kisaburo Tokai, has indicated he wants publishers to ask for a return to the original textbook language rather than his issuing a reversal order.
Tokai says he fears reversing his own decision could be interpreted by some as being a political intervention in the supposedly neutral textbook screening process. A panel of teachers and academicians reviews textbooks and recommends changes.

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