Date
25 September 2017
Some of the women forcibly taken from Penang, Malaya, by the Japanese in 1945 to work as comfort women for the troops. Photo: Imperial War Museum
Some of the women forcibly taken from Penang, Malaya, by the Japanese in 1945 to work as comfort women for the troops. Photo: Imperial War Museum

Japan request to alter US book’s text on comfort women rejected

A major US publisher has rejected a request by the Japanese government to change passages about “comfort women” in World War II in a history textbook, The Wall Street Journal reported.

McGraw-Hill Education said Thursday representatives of the Japanese government had asked it to revise the text on “comfort women” in a book titled Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past.

“Scholars are aligned behind the historical fact of ‘comfort women’, and we unequivocally stand behind the writing, research and presentation of our authors,” the firm said.

Japan’s foreign ministry acknowledged it had contacted McGraw-Hill last month to ask for the changes.

It said the text included “grave errors and descriptions that conflict with our nation’s stance” but didn’t specify the errors.

The request was the latest effort by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his conservative government to revive patriotism at home and enhance Japan’s image overseas by toning down negative depictions of its wartime activities, the newspaper said.

The textbook, written by historians Jerry Bentley and Herbert Ziegler, contain two paragraphs on comfort women, many of whom were Korean, who were forced to serve in Japanese military brothels in the 1930s and 1940s. 

“The Japanese army forcibly recruited, conscripted, and dragooned as many as 200,000 women aged 14 to 20 to serve in military brothels, called ‘comfort houses,’” it says.

The book also says the Japanese military “massacred large numbers of comfort women to cover up the operation”.

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