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Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009
No Okinawa clause for textbooks
Decision means no special consideration for islanders' feelings on wartime mass suicides
By MASAMI ITO
The government officially decided Tuesday not to insert a special Battle of Okinawa clause into textbook screening guidelines that would give "special consideration" to passages about the history of Okinawa.
Shokichi Kina, an Okinawan lawmaker of the Democratic Party of Japan, had demanded the government clarify whether it intends to include the clause, sought by many Okinawa residents and teachers.
A similar provision giving special consideration to sensitive history issues involving South Korea and China was put into the guidelines in 1982.
"The education ministry is not considering mentioning in textbook screening guidelines that the damages from the previous world war in a certain area be treated differently from other regions," the government said in a written response to Kina's request.
To increase transparency, Kina also urged the government to disclose the details of the textbook screening discussions and to let the public listen in on the meetings. But the government said that would be inappropriate.
"It is important that the members come to an agreement by holding discussions openly and freely based on their own views without outside pressure and in a peaceful and tranquil environment," the government statement said. "Withholding personal exchanges and keeping the meetings closed to the public is considered appropriate."
The education ministry triggered public outrage in 2007 when it ordered publishers to modify statements that originally said Okinawans were forced to commit mass suicide by the military during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.
In 1982, the government faced similar controversy with sensitive historical facts, especially those related to China and South Korea. As a result, a sensitivity clause was officially added to the textbook screening guidelines.