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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 July, 2005, 08:59 GMT 09:59 UK
Japan textbook back in spotlight
By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Tokyo

Victims of Japanese Imperial Army as comfort women shout slogans during an anti-Japan rally opposing revision of the Japanese school history textbook at Topgol Park in Seoul, Monday, July 9, 2001
The text has angered those who suffered under Japan's colonial rule
A new edition of a Japanese history textbook that has provoked protests in China and South Korea has been adopted by a public school board in Japan.

Seven junior high schools in the central town of Otawara will use the book, which has been criticised for distorting Japan's militarist past.

It is the first town to adopt the new edition of the textbook.

The move could re-ignite a diplomatic dispute which first flared when the government approved the book in April.

This textbook is a new edition of a work that been used for the last four years in a handful of schools around the country.

It has been criticised for making just a passing mention of atrocities by Japanese troops in Asia, and leaving out the stories of the women sexually enslaved by members of the imperial army.

Textbooks approved every 4 years by education ministry
Most controversial history book said to whitewash Nanjing massacre
Earlier edition approved in 2001, but adopted by only 0.1% of schools - mostly for those with disabilities
School boards must decide which textbook to use by 31 August
Supporters of most controversial book want 10% of boards to approve it

When the government approved it in April, there were diplomatic protests by China and South Korea. These were followed by anti-Japanese street demonstrations.

Japan responded that the text did not represent the government's official view.

The scholars who wrote the book say Japan is too masochistic in its teaching of history. A decision by the Otawara school board is a victory for them.

The earlier edition of their work was only used on the margins of the school system.

Now, more than 1,600 students in the public school system will learn from the new edition.

Almost 600 other communities across Japan will decide whether to use the controversial text over the next few weeks.

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