A story that refers to cruel conduct by a Japanese soldier during World War II was pulled from a high school textbook and replaced with an excerpt from “My Fair Lady” after politicians protested to the publisher, published reports said today.
Sanseido Co., the publisher of the English textbook, decided to replace the story after members of the governing Liberal Democratic Party complained it was inappropriate.
But the change has led to renewed charges that political and government influence is being used to gloss over textbook accounts of Japanese atrocities during World War II.
The five-page lesson titled “War” in Sanseido’s “First English Series II” begins with a conversation among Southeast Asians.
“ ‘Which nation is the most cruel?’ ‘The Germans.’ ‘No. No. The Japanese,’ ” the lesson says.
The lesson then tells a story about a Japanese soldier in Malaysia who grabbed a baby from its mother and “threw the baby up into the air and ran his sword through it. The baby died on the spot.”
The lesson goes on to say, “War makes people cruel. So we cannot say one nation is more cruel than another.”
It also mentions the case of Siamese twins from Vietnam, Duc and Viet, whose deformity may have been caused by the defoliant Agent Orange used by the U.S. military in Vietnam.
“These stories are sad, but sometimes we have to face uncomfortable things to make our life better,” the lesson said.
Fukuo Ishinabe, director of Sanseido’s school textbook department, said the story was aimed at promoting understanding for international peace.
But he said the company agreed to replace the story with an excerpt from “My Fair Lady,” the popular musical, because “any material that causes misunderstanding is not good.”
The 120-page textbook was approved by Education Ministry examiners in July. All textbooks used in Japanese schools must be approved by the ministry, which often demands changes.
Other Asian nations have in recent years protested many of those changes, including changing Japan’s “invasion” of mainland Asia to “advance” and the toned-down description of the Nanking Massacre, in which Japanese soldiers killed or raped up to 300,000 Chinese.
History texts also fail to mention Japan’s biological experiments on war prisoners in Manchuria.