Deniz Ozdemir in Foreign Policy
Who knew that a history textbook could elicit anything more than a couple yawns from disinterested schoolchildren? On the Japanese island of Okiwana, the site of a bloody battle between U.S. and Japanese troops in 1945, a short passage in a new high school textbook brought more than 100,000 angry protesters out into the streets this past Saturday, the largest the small island has ever seen. For critics, the textbook dishonestly distorts the facts in its discussion of the several hundred Okinawa citizens who committed suicide during the U.S. invasion. The textbooks originally disclosed that the imperial army had handed out grenades to residents and ordered them to kill themselves rather than surrender, but Japan’s Education Ministry instructed publishers to delete these references from the book’s pages in March. The Ministry, reflecting the revisionism of recently ousted PM Shinzo Abe, cited divergent views of the event and said there was no real proof for either viewpoint.