A new twist on the textbook wars! Some of Japan’s historians are complaining that McGraw-Hill published a history textbook which “contains a number of ‘factual errors’ on the ‘comfort women’ issue,” and are therefore requesting that the textbook be rewritten to their specifications. They are not content with distorting their own history within Japan, they want to make the rest of the world complicit in their nationalist agenda to deny their WWII crimes. I’m certain that McGraw-Hill won’t cave into this demand, but it does show how desperate the nationalists are. If they want to restore pride and respect to their nation, as they claim, they would do better to admit their past wrongs and learn from them. Trying to deny the past is what is bringing them shame.
Japanese historians seek revision of U.S. textbook over ‘comfort women’ depiction | The Japan Times.
Credit Robert G. Fresson, The New York Times (November 14, 2014)
In an interview Naruhito, the crown prince of Japan, said: “Today when memories of war are set to fade, I reckon it is important to look back our past with modesty and pass down correctly the miserable experience and the historic path Japan took from the generation who know the war to the generation who don’t.” You go Naruhito! Whether he intended it or not, it was a rebuke against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s nationalist history that denies Japanese war crimes during WWII, particularly the use of comfort women.
Japan crown prince warns on ‘correct’ history – Yahoo News.
Crown Prince Naruhito
More attempts by the Japanese government to deny the use of comfort women by the Japanese army during WWII. Nogawa Motokazu gives an update on the situation in Japan and concludes: “These moves of the government and the ruling party not only prevent any improvement of Japan-Korea relations but also inflict a second victimisation on the victims of Japanese military’s wartime sexual slavery, who are still living in many parts of the world. We should never forget this.” Read his entire article at:
History News Network | New Attack on the ‘Comfort Women’.
Credit: Robert G. Fresson from the New York Times article: “The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth” (November 14, 2014)
Mindy Kotler in today’s New York Times wrote: “The United States, in particular, has a responsibility to remind Japan, its ally, that human rights and women’s rights are pillars of American foreign policy. If we do not speak out, we will be complicit not only in Japanese denialism, but also in undermining today’s international efforts to end war crimes involving sexual violence.”
The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth – NYTimes.com.
“Coming to terms with its militarist past has never been easy for Japan, which tried to set aside the issues raised by the war as it rebuilt itself into the peaceful, prosperous nation it is today. But pressure to erase the darker episodes of its wartime history has intensified recently with the rise of a small, aggressive online movement seeking to intimidate those like Mr. Mizuguchi who believe the country must never forget,” Martin Fackler
by a far right nationalist group of “cyberactivists” known as Net Right to halt the erection of a memorial in the tiny village of Sarufutsu, where “[a]t least 80 Korean laborers died of abuse and malnutrition here as they built an airfield at the behest of the Japanese military during World War II.” This group is using intimidation to stop what it sees as blights on the image of the nation. Unfortunately, in this case they succeeded and work on the memorial came to a halt.
These nationalists believe that they are restoring honor to the Japanese nation but what is more honorable: Admitting your sins and trying to make amends or covering them up?
Pressure in Japan to Forget Sins of War – NYTimes.com.
History is the tool of nationalists everywhere. They believe that greatness is perfection. Therefore, they must whitewash the past. The result is the creation of a mythic past that must be protected at all costs. As a result, they lash out at anyone who would taint their beautiful picture. Those who dare to do so are seen as enemies of the nation and deserve only contempt and hatred. Unfortunately, nationalism has been on the rise recently. Pride in one’s nation is only natural but when it turns to arrogance it becomes a divisive force that can turn violent if it is not checked.
The Japanese (as well as others) have never really confronted their past but they had been heading in a more honest direction until the recent rise in nationalism. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has recently requested that the Education Ministry approve only patriotic textbooks (i.e. books that deny the crimes committed by the Japanese during WWII). (see The New York Times) The fact that “several members of Abe’s cabinet are gearing up for a demand that the [Kono] statement [that admits responsibility for the comfort women used by the Japanese soldiers during WWII] be withdrawn next year, the 70thanniversary of the end of World War II” (see article) is only the latest indication of a troubling trend. Unfortunately, this trend is not limited to Japan.
I believe that nationalists have it backwards. Whitewashing the past is not the path to greatness; confronting the past is. The real heroes in this story are those like Matsumoto Masayoshi (see video at link below) who are willing to speak out in order to bear witness to the atrocities that they witnessed. Japan can only be respected if it is willing to admit their mistakes. The nationalists are wrong to believe that erasing the past will restore honor to Japan.
History News Network | Some in Japan want to deny “comfort women” were employed in WW II. They need to watch this..