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LDP split on shutting down special textbook committee

Date Posted: 2008-01-24

The Liberal Democratic Party’s Okinawa branch has proposed abolishing its special committee established last year to provide input on the Ministry of Education decision to alter high school textbook accounts of mass suicides during the Battle of Okinawa.

The ruling party’s spokesman says “It’s not yet 100% satisfied with answers from the government,” but the executive committee group believes it has done all that it can. The decision to break up the committee is not being met with universal acceptance; many LDP members want to keep the special committee in operation until the Ministry of Education lives up to its promises to restore original language to textbooks before April.

The Ministry of Education last May ordered five high school textbook publishers to delete references to the Japanese Imperial Army ordering Okinawans to use hand grenades to commit mass suicide, rather than surrender to invading American forces. Survivors of the 1945 Battle of Okinawa have long described the soldiers’ orders, particularly on Zamami Island. Japanese military officers on Okinawa during the battle have denied the charges.

Massive public protests last summer culminated with a rally involving more than 100,000 Okinawan leaders and ordinary citizens, demanding the Education Ministry reverse its directive. More or less, it has, with the ministry telling textbook publishers they could submit requests to revert back to original text. The publishers have already done that.

Tsunehiro Iha, Chairman of the LDP Okinawa Chapter, says “this problem is insistently discussed by the executive committee, and if problems come up again, we will have to set up some kind of organization again.” Toshinobu Nakazato disagrees. The chairman of the executive committee group says “If some people don’t want to break up the committee, it must be decided by the executive committee members.”

Insiders say people within the party are upset by the decision, because the textbook issue is not fully settled. “We can’t go breaking up the executive committee now. There are still too many problems with the textbook examination opinion to withdraw.” They say “we need to fight until we are sure corrections to the textbook are true.” Rank and file party members say the party bosses are being dictatorial, since everyone is not satisfied with the Education Ministry actions.

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