The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology released yesterday its new textbook content review, which cleared references to “orders from Japanese soldiers” and civilians being “forced by the military” to commit mass suicides in the chapters pertaining to the bloody Battle of Okinawa in 1945. This is the first time since World War II that some high schools will be using textbooks that say these deaths were actually ordered to be done by the Japanese Imperial Army.
Such phrases have long been a subject of debate—whether or not they should be included. In 2006, a number of evaluators taking part in the textbook review would not approve books that said “there was army coercion” in the suicides. Publishers revised them and had those phrases deleted. In 2007, Okinawans filed an application to revise the textbooks to show that the Imperial Army did have a contribution to the suicides. Despite that, the ministry has never really approved content that explicitly stated that the Imperial Army was directly involved in them. That is, until now.
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