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Professor tells public and Education Ministry 1945 Okinawa mass suicides were ‘forced’

Date Posted: 2007-11-28

A Nanto Gakuin University professor who first wrote of the Battle of Okinawa in 2001, and the Japanese Imperial Army’s role in Okinawans being given hand grenades and told to commit mass suicide rather than be captured by attacking Americans, has repeated the claims in a new memorandum to the Ministry of Education.
Hirofumi Hayashi is one of many researchers and authors asked by the Textbook Authorization Council to give their opinions on Japanese soldiers’ role in the suicides, a controversial issue that has spilled over to high school textbooks and orders to delete references to military involvement. Hayashi’s thoughts, as well as those from other researchers, will go to the ministry as discussions rage on whether to reverse course and reinstate textbook verbiage describing the mass suicides as having been “forced and steered” by the Japanese Army.
The education ministry last Spring ordered publishers to delete such references from all textbooks before next April’s start to the new academic year, raising a furor on Okinawa. In September, more than 100,000 Okinawans demonstrated in Ginowan City, demanding the high school textbooks be restored to original language, and that the education ministry reverse its instructions to the publishers.
Hayashi has defied the education ministry’s instructions to keep the latest round of polling away from the public, instead going public with his report. He told the panel “The question is not whether there was an order from the military, but the process that resulted in driving Okinawa residents to commit mass suicide.” He said “the residents committed suicide, effectively, under the military’s orders.”
The professor also lashed out at the Textbook Authorization Council for earlier “distorting and misusing” passages from his 2001 account of the Battle of Okinawa, in which he wrote “the Japanese military did not directly order the residents to commit suicide.” Hayashi is a well known expert on the Battle of Okinawa, and also for his research into Japanese military use of “comfort women”, also called sex slaves.
The Education Minister went before television cameras Tuesday to say he’ll not comment on the textbook committee’s work until it is finished. Kisaburo Tokai said he wants the committee to work in a calm atmosphere.

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