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Nobukatsu Fujioka: What the Founder of the Textbook Reform Movement Wants Students to Learn

Following is an excerpt from a speech by Professor Nobukatsu Fujioka, professor of education at Tokyo University, and Vice-Chairman of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform. It was delivered before the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on Feb. 25, 1999. Professor Fujioka is recognized as the leader in the movement to make Japan's textbooks more patriotic:

Thank you very much for your kind introduction. Ladies and gentlemen, it's a great honor for me to have an opportunity to speak to this distinguished audience on our history textbook reform movement in Japan, even though you may have called on me just out of curiosity.

State of History Education in Japan Today

The Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform was established two years ago, by those of us who became deeply concerned by the very serious state of history education in Japan.

Half-a-century has passed since the end of World War II, but this is the first time in over fifty years that we Japanese have begun to look at our own history with our own eyes, and make our own judgements.

Our view of modern Japan's history, our perception of it, has been an amalgam of histories as understood and judged by the victors of the last war, namely the USA and the former USSR. This view was forced upon Japan after Japan's surrender, and was inevitable to some degree. The Japanese, on the one hand, submitted to the victors' view of history, while on the other hand chose not to think about it and rather pursue better living standards and a path to prosperity.

Today, Japan has a well-developed economy and is in a position to make great contributions to world peace and prosperity, if she so chooses. However, I believe that our conventional historical self-perception is actually pulling us away from a sense of international responsibility and true integrity.

I believe that if Japan is to share her wealth with other nations, then I would like to do it willingly, not grudgingly. Yet the past administrations of Japan seem to have a record of doing precisely this. The pattern seems to be, foreign government pressure, and giving in, and pressure, and giving in. That was how Japan cooperated in the Gulf War.

Modern Japan seems to lack a strong self-image of what she is, what kind of country she wishes to become, what ideals she cherishes. These are all matters deeply related to the prevalent view of Japan's modern history, which I and my colleagues call the masochistic view.

An Example of a Distorted and Masochistic History Lesson

Let me give you one prime example of an account in a middle-school history textbook, that is masochistic and distorted.

This photograph appears in both middle-school and elementary-school textbooks. A caption describes the photograph as a painting on the wall of a house in northern China, executed during the Sino-Japanese war, and depicting atrocities committed by Japanese troops.

However, the theme, namely, soldiers tying their victim to a pillar and cutting off her breasts, actually is one of the official forms of punishments practiced by dynasties throughout Chinese history. In addition, at various times in the past, the Chinese themselves have committed similar mass barbaric acts. Atrocities like this are a facet of Chinese culture, one that is peculiar to Chinese culture, and one with which the Chinese people are all too familiar, but one with which the Japanese culture or history has nothing to do. We have never had such a form of punishment in our history.

Clearly, this painting was intended to incite anti-Japanese sentiment to convince the Chinese people that this would be their fate if Japanese troops invaded their country. The artists are known to be members of a student unit based in a faraway region. The Japanese soldiers here are wearing armbands with the Japanese flag on them, here, and it is quite obvious that the students had never seen Japanese soldiers, who never went to war in such attire.

This is one example of the perversion of Japanese history textbooks today. We are educating our children using unsubstantiated, wartime, enemy propaganda. You can easily imagine how children come to believe that their ancestors were murderous monsters. In actuality, there is no evidence proving that Japanese war crimes were any worse than war crimes committed by other nations.

Farce and Historical Facts about "Comfort Women":
How the "Scandal " Started from a Single Liar

There is also another very serious issue, that of the so-called "military comfort women".

In June 1996, the Ministry of Education announced the results of its screening process for the textbooks to be used by middle-school students the following school year.

The textbooks for social studies and history, produced by seven publishers, contained references to "comfort women".

The masochistic slant in Japanese history education has reached the point to include a completely ungrounded, actually false story, that it is included in all the middle-school history textbooks authorized by the Ministry of Education. I would like to explain to you why a description of so-called "military comfort women", should not be included in middle-school textbooks.

First of all, let me give you some facts, and data.
The term "military comfort women", or jugun ianfu, has come to mean an absolute distortion of historical fact, that the Japanese military transported women, against their will, to war zones. People all over the world now seem to believe that these women then became "sex slaves" to satisfy the sexual needs of Japanese soldiers.

This image became widespread as the result of one testimony, by a man called Yoshida Seiji, who wrote a book entitled "My War Crimes: Forcible Transport of Korean Nationals", published in 1983.

Asahi Newspaper wrote articles on this book with great fanfare and spread the image.

In this book, Mr. Yoshida supposedly admits to being ordered to mobilize Korean women by the Japanese army, and kidnaps them from villages in Korea.

Professor Hata Ikuhiko of Nihon University, questioning his so-called "testimony", took a fact-finding tour to Korea.

The results were shocking.
Professor Hata visited the village where the women were supposedly kidnapped. All the villagers he interviewed denied that there had been such acts by the Japanese military. They told him they couldn't understand why someone would tell such a story. They said it probably shows money-making greed of the Japanese publisher.

Furthermore, Professor Hata discovered that a local Korean newspaper had carried out research like his, and had concluded that this story was false and fabricated.

"Comfort women" were not sexual slaves. They were simply prostitutes, taken to war zones by private brokers.

In Korea, almost all the brokers were Korean. The prostitutes, on the other hand, were about 40% Japanese, and 20% Korean, according to Professor Hata's recent study.

Prostitution in itself is a tragedy, but there is no evidence to indicate that the women were forced into it by the Japanese military. If this had been the case, I am sure the proud Koreans would have been so outraged that they would have stood up to kill all Japanese, no matter what the consequences.