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Ienaga: vindicated

Japanese Censorship of School History Books 'Unlawful'

Japan's Supreme Court has ruled that the censorship of school textbooks is unlawful. The outcome marks the conclusion of a long-running legal battle between the Ministry of Education and an eminent professor, and centres around a history book referring to wartime atrocities. The judgement is likely to have wider repercussions for Japan in its relationship with its Asian neighbours.

Professor Saburo Ienaga has been fighting his case for 32 years. He wrote a textbook which deals frankly with atrocities like the Rape of Nanking, where many thousands of Chinese were massacred by Japanese soldiers. He also describes the notorious unit 731 in China, where the Japanese military experimented with germ warfare on live prisoners.
Prof Ienaga's book - a truth too far?

The BBC's Juliet Hindell reports on the background to the case

The Ministry of Education screened the book - as it does with all textbooks - and ordered that those and six other passages be deleted or revised. Prof Ienaga argued that this amounted to censorship which distorted history, and sanitised gross abuses of human rights.

Japanese troops committed atrocities during the 1937 Sino-Japanese War
The Japanese government has never acknowledged that it conducted germ warfare, and the Tokyo High Court had ordered Ienaga to delete the passages on the grounds that there was not enough evidence to prove the existence of Unit 731.

Prof Ienaga started his battle in 1965 when the Education Ministry ordered him to revise numerous passages in his book New History of Japan because they showed some Japanese actions in World War Two in an unfavourable light.

The court ordered the government to pay him 400,000 yen (about 2,150) in compensation.

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