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Japan textbook back in spotlight

A controversial new edition of a Japanese history text book that provoked anti-Japanese protests in China and South Korea has been chosen by a public school board for use in its schools. The book has been criticised for distorting Japan's militarist past. This report from Chris Hogg.

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This text book is a new edition of a work that has been used for the last four years in a handful of schools around the country. It's been criticised for making just a passing mention of atrocities by Japanese troops in Asia and leaving out the stories of the women sexually enslaved by members of the imperial army.

When the government approved it in April, there were diplomatic protests by China and South Korea. These were followed by anti-Japanese street demonstrations. Japan responded that the text did not represent the government's official view.

The scholars who wrote the book say Japan is too masochistic in its teaching of history. A decision by the Otawara school board is a victory for them. The earlier edition of their work was only used on the margins of the school system. Now, more than two thousand students in the public school system will learn from the new edition. Almost six hundred other communities across Japan will decide whether to use the controversial text over the next few weeks.

Chris Hogg, BBC News, Tokyo.

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a handful of
a few

a passing mention of atrocities
a very brief reference to cruel or violent acts, giving them very little importance

sexually enslaved
forced by someone to be used for sex

diplomatic protests
complaints from countries’ leaders

people who study a subject in great detail

to enjoy your own suffering

on the margins of
in a very small part of

public school system
schools run by the government

something which causes a lot of disagreement

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