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Japanese scholars demand U.S. textbook publisher correct sexual slavery descriptions

2015/12/08 08:07

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) -- Dozens of right-wing Japanese historians have issued a joint statement accusing an American history textbook of containing factual errors about the country's wartime sexual slavery, a claim seen as in line with Tokyo's attempt to water down the atrocity.

The 50 scholars, including Osaka City University professor Eiji Yamashita, claimed in the December edition of Perspectives on History, a scholarly journal published by the American Historical Association, that the U.S. publisher McGraw-Hill's textbook has eight "apparent factual errors within 26 lines in merely 2 paragraphs."

   In March, 19 Japanese scholars issued a similar statement demanding McGraw-Hill correct the description of Japan's sexual slavery in the textbook. That followed the Japanese government's widely denounced demand that the American publisher alter the description of the sexual slavery issue in the text.

The latest statement by the right-wing Japanese scholars also came in response to a landmark statement issued in February by 20 American historians and later co-signed by nearly 500 scholars around the world in which the scholars denounced Japan's pressuring of the American publisher as an attempt to "censor history."

   The Japanese scholars claimed in the latest statement that the McGraw-Hill textbook contains accounts that "are completely without supporting historical evidence."

   "We have to say that the credibility of the McGraw-Hill textbook as a whole should be seriously questioned as 8 errors of fact in only 26 lines, mentioned earlier, on the comfort women were found in the textbook," the Japanese scholars said in the statement.

McGraw-Hill has long said it "unequivocally" stands by what's written in the textbook.

Alexis Dudden, a professor at the University of Connecticut who has been at the forefront of efforts to denounce Japan's attempt to water down the crime, said that the Japanese historians' claims "couldn't be farther from the truth."

   "It's not natural that a government intervenes in academic publication. Imagine if Ambassador Caroline Kennedy sent three people from the American Embassy in Tokyo to various publishers of school textbooks to examine how Japanese textbooks portray the attack on Pearl Harbor," she said, referring to the Japanese ambassador to Tokyo.

Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mainly from Korea, which was a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese soldiers during World War II. But Japan has long attempted to whitewash the atrocity.

The sexual slavery issue has been the biggest thorn in frayed relations between Japan and South Korea, with Seoul demanding Japan take steps to address the grievances of elderly Korean victims of the atrocity and Japan refusing to do so.

Last month, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to accelerate negotiations to resolve the issue.