Japanese officials hint at textbook change

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-10-03 08:51

Japanese officials hinted Tuesday the government will support changing school history textbooks to reinstate references to forced mass civilian suicides during World War II, following a huge protest last week.

More than 100,000 people protested on Saturday on the southern island of Okinawa against a government order in December to modify sections of several high school textbooks that said the Japanese army - faced with a US invasion in 1945 - distributed grenades to island residents and urged them to kill themselves rather than surrender to the Americans.

"We must respect the wishes of the Okinawa people. We must openly acknowledge that this is a tragedy that happened repeatedly," said Hiroyuki Hosoda, deputy secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The government may order further research into the matter "to establish the facts," said Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.

Speaking to reporters in Okinawa, Governor Hirokazu Nakaima said he planned to travel to Tokyo Wednesday for meetings with government officials.

Education Minister Kisaburo Tokai has said his ministry will consider restoring the reference if he received a request from publishers to do so.

Last year's order to amend the texts, which came amid moves by Tokyo to soften brutal accounts of Japanese wartime conduct, triggered immediate protest from Okinawa residents and academics.

Historians say at least 500 civilians were induced by government propaganda to believe US soldiers would commit horrible atrocities, and killed themselves and their families to avoid capture.


Top World News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours