Japan's school textbook to include passage about 'comfort women'

Manabisha, a Tokyo-based publishing company, will publish a middle-school history textbook for the first time that will include a passage about so-called comfort women, something that no other textbook currently in use mentions.

The book was approved by the education ministry after it added the government's stance on the issue to its original textbook. The addition reads: "There have so far been no confirmed documents to directly prove [the involvement of military and administrative personnel in] the forcible taking away of comfort women."

It is the first time a reference has been made to comfort women in a middle-school textbook since the 2002 academic year.

The reference to comfort women is carried on a page titled, "The postwar era to be questioned anew - Diplomatic normalisation between Japan and China, and the East Asia."

The ministry did not approve the Manabisha textbook in its original form, saying that it is difficult to understand the overall trend of history, and it pointed out about 270 passages as inaccurate.

One inaccuracy concerned a description based on the testimonies of the former comfort women. The ministry denounced it as "being not based on the government's view."

The publisher deleted the descriptions based on the testimony of former comfort women and incorporated the government's view on the matter.

Manabisha was established in 2013 to publish school textbooks written and compiled by a voluntary group consisting of teachers and others. The publisher explained that it "took up comfort women as part of the global move to look at individuals whose human rights were infringed during wartime."

The description of comfort women appeared for the first time in middle school history textbooks for use in the 1997 academic year. In six of seven such textbooks, there was a description that "many young women were also sent to battlefields as comfort women." One textbook made mention of "comfort stations."

The number of textbooks mentioning comfort women and stations decreased to three of the eight for use in the 2002 academic year. There are no such textbooks currently in use.Speech