Subject: [cwj 157] Asians form human chain to protest Japanese history textbook
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2001 18:51:10 -0700
Seq: 157

Monday, June 11 7:12 PM SGT 

Asians form human chain to protest Japanese history textbook

TOKYO, June 11 (AFP) - 

About 500 protesters from Asian nations formed a human chain around Japan's
education ministry to protest controversial history textbooks, approved by
the ministry in April, alleged to gloss over Japanese wartime atrocities.

"I want the Japanese people to pass on the correct history to younger
generations," said former sex slave Kim Soon Duk, 81, from South Korea, one
of the participants in the chain.

"I was 17 when I was taken to Shanghai with a promise of a job to be a
nurse. Instead, I was forced to serve as a comfort woman (sex slave) for
the Japanese military for three years," she said.

"When people like me are still alive, how can such textbooks be published?"
she said.

The show of frustration and solidarity was directed at Tokyo's education
ministry for approving eight Japanese junior high school textbooks, which
Asian countries say whitewash Japan's military aggression during the World

One book in particular avoids references to Japan's pre-World War II
invasion of its Asian neighbours. It also plays down events such as the
Nanjing massacre and the use of tens of thousands of Asian women as sex
slaves for Japanese troops.

The textbook was edited by the Society for History Textbook Reform, a group
of avowedly nationalist historians who assert Japan has become too
"masochistic" in assessing its past.

"Japan's responsibility for its activities during the war has not been
forgiven. We must tell our children the facts," said Sei Inoue, 63, a
Catholic nun from Tokyo, as she stood in the line around the ministry

"By participating in this human chain, I was hoping to emphasize that point
to the Japanese people."

"This issue is not just a problem for Japan alone. It is an Asia-wide
issue," said Rumiko Nishino, a member of the Children and Textbooks Japan
Network 21 pressure group.

The human chain met with a noisy counter-protest from about 150 members of
right-wing organisations in dark-grey coaches fitted with the national flag
and hurling abuse through loudspeakers.

"Don't complain about Japanese history books, you idiots!... This is a
politically-motivated attempt by foreigners to intervene in domestic
matters," one protester bellowed over a tannoy system.

More than 200 uniformed police officers, some in riot gear were on hand to
keep the two sides apart.

Earlier about 250 people from Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia, Taiwan,
Indonesia and the Philippines had met over two days to lobby against the
textbooks and discuss Japan's approach to its wartime past, said an
organiser of the event.

"This was really the first time that people from Asia got together to
discuss the issue," said Yayori Matsui, chairwoman of the Violence Against
Women in War Network, Japan.

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