Abe Keita (Franciscan priest)
Last summer, there was a hot debate all over the country with regard to the adoption or rejection of history textbooks produced by a commission to write new History textbooks and published by Fusosha. The Kansai area also reacted to this issue and came out strongly on it, but the recent news about the terrorist attacks on the New York International Trade Center buildings and the Pentagon are dominating the media daily.
The rejection or acceptance of the history textbooks provoked strong reactions especially in Tochigi prefecture, from July to August 15. During this period many Christian groups, citizens' groups and Junior and Senior High schools participated in activities opposing the adoption of the textbooks.
First of all, on July 15 there was a gathering concerning the adoption or rejection of the new history textbooks at the YMCA of Joto ward (Osaka). A lecturer from the public Middle school of Sakai City presented the main problems of the new textbooks and explained the main national movements, introducing the demands of those opposing the adoption of the textbooks to participate and cooperate. As a result, local cultural groups and organizations involved in ethnic education, as well as citizens from Ikuno ward (Osaka), where the largest contingent of Korean nationals reside, collected signatures on a protest document and sent it to all the national education committees.
The following month, from 2 to 6 August, the "Japan South Korean Youth Forum" was held in the Central Youth Center of Osaka City, and in Osakajo park to publicly discuss the issue of the history textbooks. Furthermore, the Japanese and Korean youths demonstrated through the streets of Osaka, appealing for a fast solution to the problem of the history textbooks. They also sent public appeals to all the education committees of the Kansai region. This way the youth of both countries participated in a mutual exchange of vital discussions and performances regarding historical realities.
The reactions of those who participated in the movement opposing the textbooks can be summarized by the following opinions. First, a teacher of an ethnic group for Koreans expressed it this way, "I was surprised to see not only Koreans in Japan opposing the new textbooks, but also many Japanese. By this, I changed my image of Japan and got confidence to oppose the textbooks". Again, a Korean student said, "Koreans and Japanese expressed frankly their different views on history. I felt that it was very important to have an opportunity to speak mutually from heart to heart " .
The issue of the textbooks also caused serious repercussions among Koreans in Japan. The printing of the "Mindan Newspaper", the main source of information for Koreans in Japan, had always been done at Sankei Printing House until last August. Such a printing firm is an affiliate of the company publishing the Sankei Newspaper that has invested 100% capital in the Fusosha. As a result of the gravity of the issues concerning the history textbooks, the Mindan Newspaper that is financed partly from South Korea made a sudden decision to change the printing house. The closing of the contract in August with the former printing house could be interpreted as protest. The news concerning the adoption of the new textbooks at Tokyo's School for the Handicapped caused some stir from the point of view of the education of children with handicaps and from the point of view of human rights. Up to August 15, however, no one in other localities had adopted the new textbooks.
The opposition movement perhaps could not obtain all the desired results, but it was effective.
From August 21 to 24, the group of Christian Youth and people from Okinawa living in Osaka who are active in promoting peace, gathered to study past historical realities. The gathering took place in order to transmit to future generations the historical facts. The participants, including primary school children, were residents of Taisho and Ikuno wards (Osaka) where many Okinawans and Koreans live. In this way, a variety of movements took place during one month and a half, from opposition to adopt the new textbooks to activities that promote the historical facts without distorting history and denying the realities of past invasions. The groups participating on the opposition side continue the preparation of movements to propagate true history and prevent the adoption of the said textbooks. One can say that this movement has just started again.

After 3 weeks in Vietnam I felt, for a while, a sense of not belonging. Why is it, that in spite of living in the same world, just because one's native land is different, the life standard differs so much? I send my deepest condolences to the victims of the terrorist action in the USA, but involuntarily I tend to wonder why people do not mourn so many victims around the world that also lost their lives, like Palestinian citizens or Afghanistan refugees? Who is to decide the value of life? (Shibata Yukinori)
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