[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 08:41 GMT 09:41 UK
Okinawa anger at textbook plans
The Japanese island of Okinawa has reacted furiously to government plans to revise textbook accounts of army activities during World War II.

Okinawa politicians are protesting against a decision to tone down reports that the army ordered civilians to commit mass suicide at the war's end.

Okinawa was the scene of one of the war's bloodiest battles.

Some conservatives in Japan have in recent years questioned accounts of the country's brutal wartime past.

It is an undeniable fact that mass suicides could not have occurred without the involvement of the Japanese military
Okinawa assembly

Only this week, a group of MPs from the right-wing ruling party claimed China had exaggerated the number of people killed by Japanese troops in Nanjing in 1937.

And Prime Minister Shinzo Abe drew condemnation abroad earlier this year after he questioned whether there was any proof that Japan's military coerced women to work as sex slaves during the war.

'Important issue'

Many Okinawa civilians, including entire families, committed suicide rather than surrender to US forces after the 1945 Battle of Okinawa that left more than 200,000 dead.

Eyewitness accounts and historical research say government propaganda led civilians to believe they would face terrible atrocities if they were captured by US forces.

Japanese troops were reported to have handed out grenades to residents and ordered them to kill themselves rather than surrender to US soldiers.

The education ministry ordered publishers last March to make changes to several textbooks, which must then go before a government-appointed panel for approval.

Okinawa's local assembly unanimously approved a statement on Friday criticising the move.

"It is an undeniable fact that mass suicides could not have occurred without the involvement of the Japanese military," the assembly said.

The politicians called on the government to "retract its instruction... so the truth of the Battle of Okinawa will be correctly conveyed and such a tragic war will never happen again".

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki was quoted by the Associated Press as saying the education ministry would take "appropriate measures" in line with process.

"We understand this is an extremely important issue for the people of Okinawa," he said.

Japan MPs play down 1937 killings
19 Jun 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Chinese protest Japan war crimes
31 May 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan schools to teach patriotism
18 May 07 |  Asia-Pacific
'New proof' of Japan sex slaves
11 May 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Abe explains sex slave comments
27 Apr 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Japan PM apology on sex slaves
26 Mar 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Viewpoints: Abe sex slave row
21 Mar 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Shinzo Abe
26 Sep 06 |  Asia-Pacific

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific