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Wednesday, 15 August, 2001, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
Japan schools 'reject controversial textbook'
Museum of Japanese history
Critics say the book downplays Japanese atrocities
Almost all of Japan's school districts have rejected a controversial new text book which critics say glosses over Japan's wartime atrocities, a civic group has said.

Education boards had until Wednesday to give their response to the book, called the New History Textbook, which was written by nationalist historians.

Japan's Asian neighbours had denounced the textbook and called on the government to make changes to the content.

We must not use such a book for teaching children who carry the future on their shoulders

Ayako Okino, civic group critic
Japan has said the book, which was approved by the Ministry of Education in April for use in junior high schools, does not represent the official government view of the country's history.

Although official figures on which schools will use the book as part of their curriculum will not be released until later this month, critics say it has been overwhelmingly rejected.

"Our survey shows 98% of education boards in the 542 public school districts are not going to adopt the textbook," Ayako Okino, from a group called Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21, told French news agency AFP.

Japanese broadcaster NHK said its own nationwide poll showed out of 542 districts, 532 told them they had rejected the book.

Protest against the textbook
Japan's neighbours have denounced the book
NHK said only six state-run schools for handicapped children and six private schools will use the book, Reuters news agency reported.

Critics say the New History Textbook plays down many of the events surrounding Japan's occupation of neighbouring countries in the first half of the 20th century.

They say the book, for example, belittles Japan's use of 200,00 Asian women as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers, its use of germ warfare and the 1937 Nanjing massacre in China.

China and South Korea demanded Japan make 35 revisions to the text, but the authors, from the Society for History Textbook Reform, agreed to make just two minor changes.

See also:

07 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Tokyo backs history book in schools
25 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japanese schools rebel over textbook
10 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Anger deepens in history book row
11 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Koizumi to honour war dead
14 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan's controversial war shrine
04 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan stands firm on history book
03 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan textbook angers neighbours
31 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Attack on Japan ministry website
26 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Court rejects Korean wartime claim
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