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  • Protest Sept 29 re Monkashou’s Okinawa History Revisionism, Okinawa Convention Center

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on September 28th, 2007

    Hi Blog. Just got word of this from friend Gene van Troyer, regarding a protest tomorrow in Okinawa over WWII history revisionism from the Ministry of Education. Details below. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Perhaps Japanese are complacent when it comes to MEXT rewriting the history textbooks about Comfort Women and the Nanking Massacre during WWII, but what about here at home? It seems that there is no rest for the revisionists. Earlier this year (1) the GOJ through MEXT ordered all references to military-encouraged mass suicides in Okinawa to be expunged and replaced with less controversial and damning phrasing like “many people committed suicide.” Okinawans are in an uproar over this slap in their collective face (2), (3).

    Coming up tomorrow, Saturday, Sept 29, from around 3:00 P.M. there is to be a general protest (kyoukasho kentei shuudanjiketsu) staged at the Okinawa Convention Center over MEXT’s attempt to rewrite history regarding the Japanese military’s policy of encouraged civilian “mass suicides” during the Battle of Okinawa. MEXT is pushing the view that it never happened. Scores of Okinawans who were there and witnessed it say it did (4), (5).

    (1)***Okinawa Outcry Grows Over Japan Textbook Revision on WWII Suicides

    http://www.propeller.com/viewstory/2007/06/09/1000-protest-in-okinawa-at-gov t-view-on-military-role-in-war-suicide/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.breitbart.com%2 Farticle.php%3Fid%3DD8PLABLG0%26show_article%3D1%26catnum%3D0&frame=true

    (2)***1,000 Protest in Okinawa at Gov’t View on Military Role in War Suicide

    http://www.propeller.com/viewstory/2007/06/09/1000-protest-in-okinawa-at-gov t-view-on-military-role-in-war-suicide/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.breitbart.com%2 Farticle.php%3Fid%3DD8PLABLG0%26show_article%3D1%26catnum%3D0&frame=true

    (3)***Okinawans Outraged by What They Say is a Cover-up of Military-urged Mass Suicides During WWII Battle

    http://www.propeller.com/viewstory/2007/06/09/1000-protest-in-okinawa-at-gov t-view-on-military-role-in-war-suicide/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.breitbart.com%2 Farticle.php%3Fid%3DD8PLABLG0%26show_article%3D1%26catnum%3D0&frame=true

    (4) Ryuukyuu Shinpo article (Japanese) http://ryukyushimpo.jp/news/storyid-27569-storytopic-1.html

    (5) Okinawa Times article (Japanese) http://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/day/200709281300_03.html
    ENDS

    6 Responses to “Protest Sept 29 re Monkashou’s Okinawa History Revisionism, Okinawa Convention Center”

    1. debito Says:

      Mass rally to be staged to reverse education ministry’s stance
      09/28/2007 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

      http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200709280105.html

      NAHA–Tens of thousands of Okinawans are expected to turn out Saturday to protest Tokyo’s decision to drop references in high school textbooks to the Imperial Japanese Army’s role behind wartime civilian suicides in Okinawa Prefecture.

      Organizers hope to mobilize at least 50,000 people in what would be the largest such rally in this southernmost prefecture since 1995, when 85,000 people gathered at a park in Ginowan to vent their anger at the huge U.S. military presence after a 12-year-old girl was raped by three U.S. servicemen.

      “Whatever we do, we need to bring together at least 50,000 people. Otherwise, the central government probably won’t take our request very seriously,” Toshinobu Nakazato, chairman of the Okinawa prefectural assembly, told member groups of the rally’s organizing committee in a preparatory meeting last week.

      The committee consists of 22 groups, including labor unions and an association of bereaved families of the war dead.

      Saturday’s rally, to be held in the same Ginowan park, is expected to adopt a resolution calling for a retraction of the government’s decision on textbook screening. It will be submitted to the education ministry and other entities on Oct. 16.

      Among those scheduled to give speeches on Saturday are Yoshikatsu Yoshikawa, 68, who will give an account of a mass civilian suicide he witnessed on Tokashikijima island during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa.

      Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima will also address the crowd.

      Two local high school students will present their opinions on behalf of classmates who will be forced to use the history textbooks starting next spring.

      Similar rallies will also be held Saturday on Miyakojima and Ishigakijima islands, where combined, some 5,000 people are expected to participate.

      In its latest screening of textbooks, the education ministry instructed publishers to rewrite passages that referred to Imperial Japanese Army soldiers ordering islanders to commit mass suicides in 1945.

      The education ministry cited conflicting documents on the army’s role as a reason for making the change.

      An estimated 120,000 islanders, about one-quarter of Okinawa’s population at the time, perished in the only ground battle fought on Japanese soil that involved civilians during World War II.

      Witnesses say many people took their lives because they were instructed to blow themselves up with hand grenades provided by Japanese soldiers rather than becoming POWs.

      Calls to rescind the government’s decision mushroomed after the Tomigusuku municipal assembly passed a statement in May. Forty other municipal assemblies in Okinawa Prefecture eventually followed suit.

      Despite reservations among some ruling Liberal Democratic Party members, the prefectural assembly unanimously adopted a statement on June 22, on the eve of the anniversary of the end of organized fighting by Japanese in the Battle of Okinawa.

      Okinawan political leaders, from the vice prefectural governor to heads of local governments and assemblies, called on the government to retract the decision.

      So far, the government has refused to budge on the issue.(IHT/Asahi: September 28,2007)
      ENDS

    2. debito Says:

      100,000 protest over Japan textbook
      By CHISAKI WATANABE, Associated Press WriterSat Sep 29, 10:31 PM ET
      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070930/ap_on_re_as/japan_textbook_protest
      Courtesy of Chad Edwards

      More than 100,000 people protested Saturday in southern Japan against the central government’s order to modify school textbooks which say the country’s army forced civilians to commit mass suicide at the end of World War II.

      Publishers of history textbooks were ordered in December to modify sections that said the Japanese army — faced with an impending U.S. invasion in 1945 — handed out grenades to residents in Okinawa and ordered them to kill themselves rather than surrender to the Americans.

      The amendment order came amid moves by Tokyo to soften brutal accounts of Japanese wartime conduct, but triggered immediate condemnation from residents and academics.

      About 110,000 residents and politicians attended Saturday’s rallies in the prefecture (state) of Okinawa, said Yoshino Uetsu, one of the organizers.

      “We cannot bury the fact that the Japanese military was involved in the mass suicide, taking into account of the general background and testimonies that hand grenades were delivered,” Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima told a crowd gathered at a park in Ginowan City.

      Accounts of forced group suicides on Okinawa are backed by historical research, as well as testimonies from victims’ relatives. Historians also say civilians were induced by government propaganda to believe U.S. soldiers would commit horrible atrocities and therefore killed themselves and their families to avoid capture.

      About 500 people committed suicide, according to civic group and media reports.

      In recent years, some academics have questioned whether the suicides were forced — part of a general push by Japanese conservatives to soften criticism of Tokyo’s wartime conduct.

      The bloody battle in Okinawa raged from late March through June 1945, leaving more than 200,000 civilians and soldiers dead, and speeding the collapse of Japan’s defenses. The U.S. occupied Okinawa from the end of World War II until 1972.

      New textbooks for use in Japanese schools must be screened and approved by a government-appointed panel, which can order corrections of perceived historical inaccuracies. The publishers of seven textbooks slated for use in high schools next year had been asked to make relevant changes and submit them for approval.

      An official of the Education Ministry said Saturday that the ministry has no immediate plans concerning the amendment. She spoke on condition of anonymity, citing policy.

      Saturday’s rally was the largest in Okinawa since the island was returned to Japan by the United States in 1972, Kyodo News agency said. In 1995, 85,000 people took part in a rally following the 1995 rape of a schoolgirl there by three American servicemen, according to the agency.
      ENDS

    3. debito Says:

      Japan to reverse textbook censorship decision
      By North Asia correspondent Shane McLeod
      Australian Broadcasting Corporatoin
      http://abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/10/03/2049376.htm?section=world
      Posted Wed Oct 3, 2007 7:08am AEST
      Courtesy Mark Mino-Thompson

      Japan’s Government is set to overturn a decision to censor wartime history in high school textbooks.

      More than 100,000 people rallied to protest against the directive from the Education Ministry.

      It told textbook publishers to remove references to the Japanese military having forced mass civilian suicides on Okinawa in the final months of World War II.

      Now the Government has signalled it will overturn the decision, saying new requests for textbook reviews will be quickly processed.

      Okinawa’s Government has welcomed the announcement, while the opposition in Tokyo says it will seek an investigation into the original decision.
      ENDS

    4. debito Says:

      from the October 23, 2007 edition
      http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1023/p04s01-wosc.html

      Japan revises its history texts
      Okinawa residents protest attempts to play down the Imperial Army’s role in World War II mass suicides.
      By Takehiko Kambayashi | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

      Zamami, Japan
      On the eve of the American invasion of this subtropical island 62 years ago, Haruko Miyahira heard her elder brother, Seishu, tell their father about an order from the Japanese military.

      “My brother, who was then deputy mayor, told our father that US troops were about to land on the island, and said to him, ‘We were ordered from the military to kill ourselves. Let’s die together with good grace!'” Ms. Miyahira recalls.

      Many older islanders like Miyahira recall the warnings from the Imperial Army that American soldiers, closing in on Japan at the end of World War II, would treat captured women and men brutally. Civilians were told to kill themselves rather than surrender. Then, they were each given two grenades and instructed to hurl one at the Americans and blow themselves up with the other.

      “It was hammered into us by the military and wartime indoctrination,” says Kaoru Miyazato, another islander who says he lost many relatives in the suicides. “The Japanese military kept a firm grip on the village office.”

      The history of coerced suicides during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, the bloodiest of the Pacific war, is familiar to every Japanese high school student from nationally approved textbooks. But that could change: this past spring the government said that it had ordered textbook revisions to indicate that some Okinawans committed suicide or were forced to commit mass suicide, but not ‘by whom.’

      Official accounts of Japan’s wartime history have long been a source of deep contention in the region. China and Korea say that Japan has never been willing to confront its brutal behavior in World War II, denying or soft-peddling such events as the Nanjing Massacre in China or forcing women into sex slavery (comfort women) for Japanese soldiers.

      “They want to recover the reputations of the Imperial Army by downplaying ‘comfort women,’ the Nanjing Massacre and Okinawa’s mass suicides,” says Yoshifumi Tawara, general secretary of Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21, a Tokyo-based civic group. “To make Japan wage war once again, they need to establish the illusion that the military protects civilians.”

      Last week, 170 Okinawans, including the chairman of the assembly, local authorities, and civic group leaders, went to Tokyo, demanding that the textbook revisions be revoked. Their trip followed protests last month that brought over 110,000 to a rally in Ginowan, the largest since Okinawa reverted to Japan in 1972.

      Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has said he will seek a compromise on the revisions, which are to appear in textbooks at the start of the new school year in April. But Education Minister Kisaburo Tokai has said overturning them would be difficult and could alienate powerful nationalists in his Liberal Democratic Party.

      Many Japanese politicians, including former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and nationalist scholars and journalists, have been increasingly vocal about what they see as masochistic views of history.

      Some 200,000 Americans and Japanese died in the Battle of Okinawa. In Zamami Village, which includes 20 other smaller islands, about 1,200 people died, and 402 people committed mass suicide. There were more mass suicides in this region, called the Kerama Islands, than in the rest of Okinawa.

      To people here, the textbook revisions are a flat denial of what Okinawa’s elders went through and what they have been telling younger generations, says Etsuko Urashima, an Okinawa-based author and journalist.

      “Young people are retorting, ‘Is the government saying our grandparents are lying?’ ” she says.

      Others are worried about the precedent it sets. “Should we let this happen, I think the government will continue to gloss over one after another,” says Kodai Tsukayama, a senior at Yomitan High School in Yomitan Village, where more than 100 villagers are believed to have committed mass suicide.

      “The government is trying to crush Okinawans’ testimonies under their foot,” says Tetsuei Tamayose, an organizer of the September protest, recalling that one Japanese soldier put two hand grenades in front of him and told him to use them. “I will never forget.”

      Indeed, while Okinawa’s September protests won national headlines, stunning many Japanese, coverage quickly receded from the front pages. “The Japanese major media downplay issues in Okinawa,” says Kenichi Asano, journalism professor at Doshisha University, Kyoto. He adds that some Japanese do not see Okinawa, which was annexed in the late 19th century and today hosts most of America’s military presence in the country, as part of Japan.

      For Miyahira, whose brothers and relatives killed themselves, the memory of what happened after she was captured by US soldiers as she fled the bombing undergirds her opposition to any textbook revision. “When Americans offered us something good to eat, I was finally able to think of many of my family members who committed mass suicide,” she recalls. “I could not bear it.”
      ENDS

    5. debito Says:

      http://washingtontimes.com/article/20071026/FOREIGN/110260059/1003

      The Washington Times October 26, 2007
      ‘Nationalists’ try to rewrite lessons of wartime atrocities 

      Washington Times reporter Takehiko Kambayashi interviewed Yoshifumi Tawara, secretary general of Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21, a Tokyo-based civic group, about the government’s efforts to soften or delete accounts of Japan’s wartime atrocities in textbooks.

      Question: Why does Japan downplay its wartime atrocities in textbooks?

      Answer: Hawkish politicians such as former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and former Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, a group of nationalist scholars and journalists want to recover the reputations of the Imperial Army in the process of Japan’s remilitarization. They especially want to deny three main issues: “comfort women,” [sex slavery during World War II], Nanjing Massacre and “mass suicide” in Okinawa. They want to eliminate references to the Imperial Army that coerced Okinawans to commit “mass suicides.” That is because Okinawans always say the lesson they learned from the Battle of Okinawa is that the military does not protect civilians.

      Q: How has Japan’s academic community responded to this controversy?

      A: In the mainland, we have very few experts on the Battle of Okinawa, while there are many in Okinawa. We don’t have many experts on issues of “comfort women” or Nanjing Massacre, either. Researchers tend to avoid an area that has earlier studies. They also don’t want to work on a research area that right-wingers are likely to make a fuss over. That seems to be the bottom line. That’s why only the naysayers stand out.

      Q: How much do you think average Japanese university and high-school students understand the history of “comfort women,” the Nanjing Massacre or Okinawa’s mass suicide?

      A: Very little. … They lack an understanding of history. Students have very few history classes. Junior high school students learn history three hours a week. History is taught as an elective in high school. Some high school students don’t learn history at all. Moreover, I don’t believe schools offer classes that make students care deeply about victims or those who were killed, whether it is an issue of “comfort women,” Nanjing Massacre and “mass suicide” in Okinawa.

    6. debito Says:

      from the October 23, 2007 edition
      http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1023/p04s01-wosc.html

      Japan revises its history texts
      Okinawa residents protest attempts to play down the Imperial Army’s role in World War II mass suicides.
      By Takehiko Kambayashi | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

      Zamami, Japan
      On the eve of the American invasion of this subtropical island 62 years ago, Haruko Miyahira heard her elder brother, Seishu, tell their father about an order from the Japanese military.
      “My brother, who was then deputy mayor, told our father that US troops were about to land on the island, and said to him, ‘We were ordered from the military to kill ourselves. Let’s die together with good grace!'” Ms. Miyahira recalls.
      Many older islanders like Miyahira recall the warnings from the Imperial Army that American soldiers, closing in on Japan at the end of World War II, would treat captured women and men brutally. Civilians were told to kill themselves rather than surrender. Then, they were each given two grenades and instructed to hurl one at the Americans and blow themselves up with the other.
      “It was hammered into us by the military and wartime indoctrination,” says Kaoru Miyazato, another islander who says he lost many relatives in the suicides. “The Japanese military kept a firm grip on the village office.”
      The history of coerced suicides during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, the bloodiest of the Pacific war, is familiar to every Japanese high school student from nationally approved textbooks. But that could change: this past spring the government said that it had ordered textbook revisions to indicate that some Okinawans committed suicide or were forced to commit mass suicide, but not ‘by whom.’
      Official accounts of Japan’s wartime history have long been a source of deep contention in the region. China and Korea say that Japan has never been willing to confront its brutal behavior in World War II, denying or soft-peddling such events as the Nanjing Massacre in China or forcing women into sex slavery (comfort women) for Japanese soldiers.
      “They want to recover the reputations of the Imperial Army by downplaying ‘comfort women,’ the Nanjing Massacre and Okinawa’s mass suicides,” says Yoshifumi Tawara, general secretary of Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21, a Tokyo-based civic group. “To make Japan wage war once again, they need to establish the illusion that the military protects civilians.”
      Last week, 170 Okinawans, including the chairman of the assembly, local authorities, and civic group leaders, went to Tokyo, demanding that the textbook revisions be revoked. Their trip followed protests last month that brought over 110,000 to a rally in Ginowan, the largest since Okinawa reverted to Japan in 1972.
      Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda has said he will seek a compromise on the revisions, which are to appear in textbooks at the start of the new school year in April. But Education Minister Kisaburo Tokai has said overturning them would be difficult and could alienate powerful nationalists in his Liberal Democratic Party.
      Many Japanese politicians, including former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and nationalist scholars and journalists, have been increasingly vocal about what they see as masochistic views of history.
      Some 200,000 Americans and Japanese died in the Battle of Okinawa. In Zamami Village, which includes 20 other smaller islands, about 1,200 people died, and 402 people committed mass suicide. There were more mass suicides in this region, called the Kerama Islands, than in the rest of Okinawa.
      To people here, the textbook revisions are a flat denial of what Okinawa’s elders went through and what they have been telling younger generations, says Etsuko Urashima, an Okinawa-based author and journalist.
      “Young people are retorting, ‘Is the government saying our grandparents are lying?’ ” she says.
      Others are worried about the precedent it sets. “Should we let this happen, I think the government will continue to gloss over one after another,” says Kodai Tsukayama, a senior at Yomitan High School in Yomitan Village, where more than 100 villagers are believed to have committed mass suicide.
      “The government is trying to crush Okinawans’ testimonies under their foot,” says Tetsuei Tamayose, an organizer of the September protest, recalling that one Japanese soldier put two hand grenades in front of him and told him to use them. “I will never forget.”
      Indeed, while Okinawa’s September protests won national headlines, stunning many Japanese, coverage quickly receded from the front pages. “The Japanese major media downplay issues in Okinawa,” says Kenichi Asano, journalism professor at Doshisha University, Kyoto. He adds that some Japanese do not see Okinawa, which was annexed in the late 19th century and today hosts most of America’s military presence in the country, as part of Japan.
      For Miyahira, whose brothers and relatives killed themselves, the memory of what happened after she was captured by US soldiers as she fled the bombing undergirds her opposition to any textbook revision. “When Americans offered us something good to eat, I was finally able to think of many of my family members who committed mass suicide,” she recalls. “I could not bear it.”
      ENDS

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