110,000 Okinawans in unison demand textbooks depict to historical facts
Okinawans have risen up in protest against the Education Ministry’s recent instruction to textbook publishers to delete from high school textbooks an account that the Japanese Imperial Army had forced Okinawans to commit “mass suicides” during the Okinawa Battle that took place around the end of the Pacific War.
Some 110,000 people took part in a rally held on September 29 in Ginowan City in Okinawa. On the same day, two more rallies took place for the same cause on Okinawa’s outlying islands, and 2,500 people attended each of them. Altogether, it is calculated that one out of ten Okinawans took part in those rallies.
“The Education Ministry must teach students the truth about the Okinawa Battle! The ministry must listen to Okinawans!” they shouted in unison.
In the rally in Ginowan, representatives of the Japanese Communist Party, including Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi, House of Representatives member Akamine Seiken, and House of Councilors member Nihi Sohei, appeared on the stage along with representatives of the Democratic, Social Democratic, Okinawa Social Mass, and Komei parties as well as 34 out of 36 heads of municipalities in the main Okinawan island.
Participants adopted a resolution that reads: “It is our duty to correctly convey to our children the indisputable fact that ‘mass suicides’ during the Okinawa Battle could not have occurred without the Japanese military’s involvement, and teach them the importance of lessons we learned from the reality of the battle, the need to work for peace, and how to prevent Japan from waging such a tragic war again.”
Okinawa Governor Nakaima Hirokazu in his greetings stated, “On behalf of all Okinawans, I vehemently protest and express deep regret for the Education Ministry’s textbook screening policy. I strongly request that the ministry swiftly rescind its instruction and restore the deleted account.”
On behalf of the Okinawa Association of City Mayors, Naha Mayor Onaga Takeshi stated, “This question concerns not only Okinawans. I wish that Japan will squarely face and reflect on its conduct in Asian countries in the past and that it will march together with Asian countries towards peace and reconciliation.”
Asked by Akahata reporters, several mayors made comments on the rally:
Kin Town Mayor Gibu Tsuyoshi said, “I think Japan as a whole has not reflected on Japan’s past war. The government should recognize differences in historical perceptions between the state and Okinawans and sincerely cope with the issue.”
Motobu Town Mayor Takara Fumio said, “Okinawans’ indignation is longstanding. It also grew under the U.S. occupation. The government should withdraw its instruction in question with this fact in mind.”
Ginowan City Mayor Iha Yoichi said, “It is 62 years after WWII, and still both the U.S. forces and the Self-Defense Forces are being strengthened, imposing heavier base burdens onto Okinawans. While the memories of the Okinawa Battle are said to be fading, the success of this rally gives us great momentum for passing down a true history. The government must take it seriously that Okinawans are united in this matter.”
JCP Ichida at a news conference later in the day said, “In defending the constitutional principle of never waging war, it is important for all Japanese people to be aware of the truth of the Okinawa Battle.”
The Okinawa governor, prefectural assembly members, and municipal heads are planning to visit Tokyo shortly to make representations to the education minister and the prime minister, requesting the withdrawal of the government decision on textbook screening. – Akahata, September 30, 2007
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