The issue with these textbooks are the narratives, especially when retelling the recently historic events of Japan’s colonialism and imperialism. Outlook of the narratives have been of debate among Japanese politicians and scholars, liberals and conservatives. Many progressive & left-leaning Japanese academics and the international community believe the victimization of the people of Asia are whitewashed, understated, and/or not recognized in these textbooks. On the opposite side, conservative Japanese nationals believe the textbooks lack the tone of victimhood for the Japanese people.
Getting a textbook into the hands of Japanese children is a fairly simple process when observed from the outside. Textbook makers send drafts of their product to Japan’s Ministry of Education, where government officials review the material and ensures the material follows the curriculum. Corrections are noted on the drafts, which are sent back to the textbook company. If the Ministry likes you enough (interpret this as you will), they’ll add your book to the very short list of textbooks allowed in Japanese public schools. As you can imagine, the Japanese school textbook industry is cutthroat. And it is a very cash lucrative business. Depending on the age groups, the list of allowed textbooks can range from only 1-2 to the low 10s. These are options for every school in the entire nation.
In 2001 and again in 2006, the Ministry of Education approved a more controversial-than-usual textbook that could be used to instruct students aged between 13 and 15. It was one out of eight available options for the schools. The book created uproar with China and South Korea. Written by a group of nationalists called the Atarashii Kyokasho o Tsukuru Kai (Tsukuru Kai for short), the book whitewashed Japan’s militaristic past and glossed over many of the atrocities conducted.
Some historical events were whitewashed and glossed over and one example of this is in in reference to the...