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Friday, Nov. 21, 2008

Masuda defends 'hawkish' classes

Tamogami's nationalistic curriculum said necessary to give 'balanced' historical view


Staff writer

The Defense Ministry will continue to provide a balanced education at its Joint Staff College, but will not immediately respond to criticism that some of its lecturers are known to hold nationalistic views, Vice Defense Minister Kohei Masuda said Thursday.

Sessions at an Upper House committee last week revealed that sacked Air Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff Gen. Toshio Tamogami, ousted for justifying Japan's wartime aggression in an essay, had launched lecture courses on wartime history during his stint as head of the JSC.

The names of the course's tutors, including those of hardcore hawks such as Atsushi Fukuchi of the Atarashii Kyokasho o Tsukuru Kai (Japanese Society for Textbook Reform), had been concealed by the Defense Ministry until Wednesday night.

The textbook society, made up of revisionist scholars campaigning to nurture a patriotic spirit among Japanese youth, has at times whitewashed Japan's aggression during the war.

The group played a key role in publishing a history textbook for junior high schools in 2005 that advocated more nationalistic views.

But Vice Defense Minister Masuda backed the JSC's curriculum, arguing it is essential for officers at the academy to be exposed to a variety of historical views.

"Even if some of the opinions in the lectures go against the government's take, it does not automatically mean such education is undesirable," he told reporters in Tokyo.

The lectures, which focus on the Tokyo war crimes tribunals, the Constitution and views on the war, were launched by Tamogami in 2003.

In one lecture, Fukuchi, a professor at Taisho University, taught that Japan's current historical views "are not meant for Japanese," according to the Defense Ministry.

Other lecturers included Akinori Takamori, a professor at Kokugakuin University and a member of the textbook reform society; hawkish journalist Yoshiko Sakurai; and Takato Sakagawa, a former chief of the JSC's educational division.

Sakagawa taught officers in his lecture that Japan "stood up against Western colonization of Asian countries" during the war, the Defense Ministry revealed.

"We need to seek balanced classes for officers, even at facilities other than the JSC," Masuda told a news conference. But he said the current lineup of lecturers does not need to be changed immediately.

While assuring that the JSC will study feedback from student officers and seek a balanced tutorial staff, Chief of Staff of the Joint Staff Office Adm. Takashi Saito also said he wasn't as concerned as others appear to be.

"There are opinions that (the curriculum) is one-sided, but we also hold other lectures as well. Overall, I think the classes are balanced," he said in a separate news conference.

In his controversial essay, Tamogami argued that Japan was "trapped" into attacking Pearl Harbor by the United States and that it helped its Asian neighbors by ruling over them as colonies during the war.

Some studies by Sakurai, one of the lecturers, were listed as a reference source in the essay.



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