The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan

Major Developments since the 2009 Review: retreat from justice and deepened victims’ pain

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Major Developments since the 2009 Review: retreat from justice and deepened victims’ pain

A. Removal of records regarding “comfort women” from history textbooks

From 2001, entries regarding “comfort women” were reduced in Japanese textbooks, and now, they are completely removed. The Japanese government revised the standard criteria for textbook writing guidelines and teaching guidelines and forced publishers to include the government’s stances in textbooks. On April 6, 2015, the government announced the 2015 review of middle-school textbooks, and descriptions on “comfort women” were removed from all seventeen textbooks that had passed the screening except for one textbook. The only textbook that included the “comfort women” issue was published by Manabisha, but Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) ordered the publisher to delete the term “comfort women,” and the textbook’s fairly detailed description and references of “comfort women” were significantly reduced after the screening. Furthermore, MEXT demanded the publisher to include the government’s stance that there “have so far been no confirmed documents to directly prove the involvement of military or government personnel in the forcible taking away of comfort women.” The Kono Statement states that, “we shall face squarely the historical facts and take them to heart as lessons of history,” and “we reiterate our firm determination never to repeat the same mistake by forever engraving such issues in our memories through the study and teaching of history.” However, the resolution has gone with “comfort women” entries in textbooks.

In fact, the greater concern is that Japan is trying to erase information on “comfort women” from not just Japanese textbooks, but from other countries’ textbooks. The New York Times reported that in December 2014, Japan’s New York Consulate General requested Mcgraw-Hill publisher to delete a passage which says that “the Japanese army forcibly recruited, conscripted, and dragooned as many as 200,000 women aged 14 to 20 to serve in military brothels, called ‘comfort houses,’” and “massacred large numbers of comfort women to cover up the operation,” but it was refused. Following the event, fifty-two Japanese right-wing historians submitted a letter to Perspectives on History, published by the American Historical Association, demanding correction of the “error.”

Also, a German publisher, Klett, published a middle school history textbook which includes a passage that says “200,000 girls and women were forced into prostitution at military brothels in Japan’s occupied areas,” and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it must be pointed out because the exact number is unknown.

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