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2008年11月 3日 (月)


2008/11/3--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 1(IHT/Asahi: November 3,2008)

EDITORIAL: Mass suicide ruling


The Osaka High Court has upheld an Osaka District Court ruling that recognized as fact the Imperial Japanese military's deep involvement with the mass suicides of Okinawans in the Battle of Okinawa toward the end of World War II.


This highlights, yet again, how bizarre it was for the education ministry to order in the fiscal 2006 textbook screenings that all such descriptions of military involvement be struck out of history textbooks.


Under question was the book "Okinawa Notes" written by Nobel Prize-winning writer Kenzaburo Oe. In the book, Oe wrote that the mass suicides that occurred on the Kerama Islands, where U.S. forces first landed, were ordered by the Japanese army.


The suit was filed by a former Japanese garrison commander and others, challenging Oe's claim and demanding compensation from Oe and his publisher, Iwanami Shoten.


In November 1944, the Japanese army in Okinawa issued a policy dictating that military members and civilians must live and die together. Residents were mobilized, and were ordered not to allow themselves to be taken prisoner. This is the backdrop against which those mass suicides occurred.


In its ruling, the Osaka High Court said, "There is no denying that under the grand directive of military and civilian integration, the military was deeply involved in the group suicides. It is possible to interpret the events as enforced or ordered by the military."


Many in Okinawa have testified that the mass suicides were forced by the military. There has been extensive academic research about the matter. The high court ruling is right in line with common sense.


During the trial, the former garrison commander argued that he had ordered the residents never to commit suicide. In the appeals trial, an affidavit from a man who says he heard the commander actually say so was submitted as evidence.


affidavit /fidéivit/

swear [《略式》take, make] an ~  (証人が)供述書の真実を宣誓する 
take an ~  供述書を取る.

But the high court ruling said that the former commander's argument "can hardly be accepted," and struck down the witness' testimony as "lies." The court also refused to accept the plaintiffs' argument that the theory of the commander giving orders was a scam concocted to steal pension money.


concoct /kgnkkt|kinkkt/


1 〈口実・話を〉でっち上げる;〈計画などを〉考える,仕組む;〈陰謀などを〉企てる 
an alibi  アリバイをでっち上げる.[1]

Having said that, the court concluded that "at the time the book went to press, the theory that the commander had ordered the residents to commit mass suicide was widely accepted within academia, and there was sufficient grounds to believe it to be the truth."


Another striking part of the ruling is that the court adopted a wide interpretation of the freedom of speech. It pointed out how the plaintiffs had seized on the fact that new materials denying the position that the commander gave the orders were made public after "Okinawa Notes" was published, and ruled that "even if new data cast doubts on the reliability of the claims in the book, that does not mean it is immediately illegal to continue publishing the book."


Above all, what must not be overlooked is the fact it was this very trial that the education ministry had used as one of their main arguments for removing phrases like "forced by the Japanese army" from the textbooks. They are heavily responsible for trying to warp history based on one-sided claims.


The problematic textbook screening took place under the Abe administration with its doctrine of "departure from the postwar regime."

Was it not a case of the mood of the administration casting a shadow upon the ministry, leading it to revise history? It was during the following Fukuda administration that the ministry finally acquiesced and corrected itself, allowing "military involvement" to go back into the textbooks.


acquiesce /kwiés/

曠昿《形式》(…を)黙認する,(…に)おとなしく従う,黙従する,(要求などに)折れる,屈服する;(…に)(消極的に)同意する《 in, to...  
The people d in the President's decisions.  国民は大統領の決定にいやいやながらも同意した.[2]

One must face history plainly and straightfowardly. We should revisit how important this is in view of the textbook screenings and the subsequent trials.


[1]Progressive English-Japanese Dictionary, Third edition © Shogakukan 1980,1987,1998/プログレッシブ英和中辞典  第3版  ©小学館 1980,1987,1998

[2]Progressive English-Japanese Dictionary, Third edition © Shogakukan 1980,1987,1998/プログレッシブ英和中辞典  第3版  ©小学館 1980,1987,1998


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