High school textbooks avoid mentioning Japanese military’s involvement in forced mass suicides of Okinawans

High school textbooks avoid mentioning Japanese military's involvement in forced mass suicides of Okinawans

Japanese history textbooks refer to the “group suicide (forced mass suicide)” during the Battle of Okinawa


March 18, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On March 18, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced the screening results for high school textbooks to be used from the 2017 academic year. With regard to the description of “group suicide (forced mass suicide) of Okinawans” during the battle of Okinawa, five out of six Japanese history textbooks, from five companies, mentioned “group suicide.” No textbooks received screening comments. While the Shimizu Shoin annotated “group suicide” as “forced mass suicide,” other four textbooks referred only to “pressured” suicides. No textbook companies clearly mentioned the “compulsion” of “group suicides.”

The Shimizu Shoin text in a commentary on the Battle of Okinawa states that “There were tragic cases such as the murders of Okinawan civilians by the Japanese military and the enforcement of “group suicides.” Tokyo Shoseki noted, “This is called ‘Forced mass suicide’ by some experts.” Jikkyo Shupan used the description “group suicide or forced mass suicide.” Textbooks from the Yamakawa Shuppan and Daiichi Gakushusha used an expression with the word “pressured.”

Debating over the description of the “group suicide,” the screening process in 2006 commented, “It may lead to a misunderstanding of the situation of the Battle of Okinawa,” and deleted the description of enforcement by the Japanese military. In the 2011 screening, textbook companies avoided mentioning clearly the enforcement by the Japanese military. In the 2015 screening also, no screening comment was made.

Based on government guidelines for education, which had emphasized the education on territory, six geography textbooks from four companies, six Japanese history textbooks from five companies, ten textbooks of social science from six companies, and two political economy textbooks from one company mentioned the Senkaku Islands.

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana) 

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