International Update

Tokyo School Board Adopts Textbooks Denounced by China

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education has adopted a history textbook that critics, including the Chinese government, say wrongly downplays Japan’s military aggression during the World War II era, according to wire service reports out of Japan.

The textbooks were approved for use at four combined middle and high schools, as well as 22 schools for the blind and deaf, all of which are under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo board, Reuters reported last month. Other local school boards decide what history textbooks will be used at other schools in the Japanese capital and elsewhere in the nation. Controversies over history textbooks and curricula have grown increasingly common in Japan in recent years. ("International: Waving the Flag," June 4, 2003)

Opponents of the new textbooks, an earlier version of which was adopted in other Tokyo schools, say that they offer little discussion of such events as the role of the Japanese military in the 1937 massacre of civilians in Nanjing, China, and the forced sexual enslavement of women in Asian countries during that era.

But the Tsukurukai, or Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, an organization that supports the new textbooks and contends that previous books have been too critical of the nation’s history, praised the board’s decision. The society said school officials need to “stand resolutely against undue pressure from home and abroad” in making textbook selections, in a statement translated for Education Week.

Vol. 24, Issue 44, Page 12

Published in Print: August 10, 2005, as Tokyo School Board Adopts Textbooks Denounced by China

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