This year Germany and Poland agreed to compile by 2020 a history textbook in four volumes, covering even the modern ages of Europe. The international community welcomes the positive moves of Germany to break with its unsavoury past, develop friendly relations with neighbouring countries and promote peace in Europe.

On the contrary, Japan, styling itself as a pacifist state, is engrossed in shameless acts, still denying its past crimes.  A typical example is that history textbooks which consist of distorted contents passed state examinations without a hitch and are now in use at Japanese schools. In the textbooks, Tok Islets which have already been recognized historically and by the international law as belonging to Korea are described as the “Japanese territory” and there is even the mentioning of such a pseudo-theory as the one on “Imna under Japanese control,” which turned out to be groundless and unscientific long ago. (The Korean historians proved that “Imna under Japanese control” mentioned in the book Nihon Shoki (History of Japan) was a synonym of the Yamato state’s official agency or its head in the Kaya (Imna) ministate in the Kibi region in west Japan, and that “Wae,” one of the characters inscribed in the Monument to King Kwanggaetho, which was cited as key proof of the theory on “Imna under Japanese control,” indicates the forces of the Kaya lineage in the area of Itoshima peninsula in northern Kyushu, instead of the Yamato government in the Kinai region. The circumstances, absurdity, reactionary nature, and falsehood of the theory were fully exposed and criticized and it was decided to be a pseudo-theory.) In terms of the past sex slavery issue, under the pretext of the “agreement” with the present south Korean authorities to cover the sex slavery crimes with a trifle of money, the expression “it was legally settled” was inserted instead of the deleted expression “the military was involved in the effort to collect the sex slavery.”

Japan’s distortion of history is not confined to the Korean nation. It reduced and changed much of the data on its crimes in other Asian countries. It publishes and uses the textbooks which deny the present reality and claim its possession in the matter of territory, provoking a strong anger in neighbouring countries.

As mentioned above, it gives the students a distorted historical view by using the textbooks full of lies, thus corrupting the mind of its younger generation. Now among the Japanese young people, “superiority of the Yamato nation” and national chauvinism are rising and Japan’s past atrocities are deemed as the “liberator’s mistake” and “inevitable sacrifice.” More serious is the heavily inclined conception that “Japan is the victim, not criminal,” and that “Japan must take revenge on its enemy.”

This has all been brought about by the intentional manipulation and high-handedness of the present Japanese government running headlong to the ultraright. In March last, Asahi Shimbun disclosed the fact that the Japanese government put pressure tenaciously to make a drastic revision of the contents of the high school textbooks to suit its taste during the state examinations. According to it, the Japanese Ministry of Education and Science gave as many as 206 items of instruction for revision of the textbook History of Japan presented by a publishing house for examination and also rejected several times other textbooks until the government’s plan of revision was accepted.

Then, what does Japan seek to have through the distortion of history? It wants to realize its ill ambition of reinvasion of Asia and the old dream of “the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere,” based on revanchist feelings of the coming generations. As a result, the Japanese distortion of history is not merely an academic problem, but criminal manoeuvres to revive the militarism.

At present, the Japanese distortion of history is one of the most dangerous political issues in the international community. A foreign press once said: “Abe economics” is nearly on the verge of bankruptcy, “Abe politics” is under suspicion of violation of the constitution and “Abe military science” is racing hard for arms buildup; but even if these are all put together, they will be less dangerous than the harm that “Abe pedagogy” will do to Japan itself and the Asia-Pacific region in the future.

In spite of such an apprehension of the international community, Japan is getting more bellicose. The present Japanese authorities, with a delusion that they could realize the ambition of Tojo who ended up in ruin trying to make Japan “leader” of Asia and claiming the world supremacy, must know one thing clearly: it is a present international current to liquidate the guilty past and head for reconciliation and peace.

Oblivion of the past will bring about a bigger blunder.

Kim Hyon Ju