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Cram school deletes Nanking Massacre death toll after criticism


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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Imagine a German parliamentarian ringing up a preparatory school to inquire why their history textbook mentions the death toll of Holocaust victims. This is what basically happened to Sundai Yobigakko, a private operator of cram schools, and their history textbook that mentioned the Nanjing Massacre.

In Sundai Yobigakko's modern Japanese history textbooks, a reference to the Nanking Massacre of 1937 said more than 100,000 Chinese residents, surrendering soldiers and prisoners of war were killed. Another passage regarding the disputed Takeshima islets said Japan named them after incorporating the Dokdo islands during the Russo-Japanese war.

A Twitter post criticising the school went viral and Yamada Hiroshi, an Upper House member of the LDP, felt obliged to intervene.

That same day, company officials decided to delete the two passages and ordered all branches that use the textbooks to do so. A company official called Yamada's office and said the passages had been deleted. However, company officials also said Yamada never asked for the deletion or correction. They stressed that decision was made because of the many critical tweets. The Asahi Shimbun asked Yamada's office why the lawmaker felt the passages were problematic. The office responded that the Takeshima passage was not in line with the official government position. Regarding the Nanking Massacre, the office said the passage should have stated the various estimates for the number of deaths.

It's disheartening to see the tendency to deny Japan's war history and haggle over victims' numbers prevail among politicians and certain strata of society.

But Teruyuki Hirota, a professor of the sociology of education at Nihon University, said the deletion was another example of a company bending to outside pressure and conforming with the majority opinion. He pointed out that because cram schools were outside the framework of public education, there should be no problem if they teach items not included in the approved school curriculum or use textbooks not screened by government bodies.

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