Foreign Exchange

May 09, 2001 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In this country, debates over textbooks have been known to shake up a few school board meetings and, in extreme cases, even incite violence. But a disagreement over new history books recently authorized for use in Japan’s junior high schools next school year has escalated into an international incident.

Government officials in South Korea and China have expressed their anger over textbooks, produced by a group of nationalist historians in Japan, that suggest Japan’s military aggression before and during World War II had a positive impact on Southeast Asia.

South Korea’s ambassador to Japan was recalled last month to meet with officials of his government over how to respond to the controversial textbooks. That country’s lawmakers voted late last month to form a task force to compel Japanese officials to address the complaints. And China’s foreign minister, Tang Jiaxun, said last month that Japan’s refusal to reject the texts had hindered bilateral relations.

The Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform produced one of the textbooks because of the “self- deprecating” tone of current Japanese history texts, according to a statement from the organization. “The Japanese are depicted as criminals on whose shoulders fate has placed the burden of atoning for their sins for generations to come,” it says.

Japanese officials agreed in January to screen that textbook, and subsequently made about 130 revisions before declaring it acceptable.

Japanese officials are defending their decision, saying the textbooks went through the appropriate review. Although the government has admitted its wartime atrocities and apologized for the suffering it caused its Asian neighbors, the government does not define specific historical perspectives or outlooks, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fakudo said in a statement last month.

“During the process of the recent authorization of textbooks, various concerns have been expressed from neighboring countries,” he said. “However, the authorization process was carried out impartially.”

— Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the May 09, 2001 edition of Education Week as Foreign Exchange


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Classroom Strategies for Building Equity and Student Confidence
Shape equity, confidence, and success for your middle school students. Join the discussion and Q&A for proven strategies.
Content provided by Project Lead The Way
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Professional Development Webinar
Disrupting PD Day in Schools with Continuous Professional Learning Experiences
Hear how this NC School District achieved district-wide change by shifting from traditional PD days to year-long professional learning cycles
Content provided by BetterLesson
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Curriculum When It Comes to SEL, Administrators and Teachers See Things Differently
There is a yawning gap between administrators and teachers in how thoroughly they think SEL programs are being put to work in schools.
7 min read
Photo of girl leaning against locker.
Curriculum Status Check: The Top Challenges to Social-Emotional Learning and How to Address Them
SEL Day 2023 finds social-emotional learning at a key moment: Interest is strong but so is political pushback.
3 min read
Image of dissatisfied, neutral, satisfied.
Curriculum Scaling Up Media Literacy Education Is a Big Challenge: 4 Steps to Get Started
School librarians shared challenges they face and what resources they need to expand media literacy instruction.
2 min read
Curriculum Explainer How School Libraries Buy Books, Struggle for Funds, and Confront Book Bans: An Explainer
Schools are under fire from some parent groups over books they deem explicit. This is how those books end up in their library collections.
12 min read
Photo of librarian pushing book cart.
Wavebreak Media / Getty Images Plus