Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

【#466】News Media Distorting School Textbook Issue

Nobukatsu Fujioka / 2017.09.12 (Tue)

September 11, 2017

     On September 6, Japan’s public broadcasting corporation NHK took up the school textbook issue in its television program named “Closeup Gendai+.” The program reported that as Nada Junior High School, one of elite private schools in western Japan, adopted a textbook authored by some of classroom teachers and published by Manabisha, 50 postcards with identical messages criticizing the textbook reached the school, exerting undue pressure on the textbook selection. However, this news program covered up many serious points.

NHK’s double standard
     First, the far more notorious case of pressure on the selection of school textbooks was the obstruction by the Japan Teachers’ Union and other left-wingers against the adoption of “New History Textbook” written to correct masochistic history education in Japan. In July 2001, the education boards of two cities and eight towns in Tochigi Prefecture adopted the history textbook published by Fusosha Publishing Inc. and were flooded with a total of 20,000 protest messages via telephone or facsimile. Almost every late night, education board chairman received threatening telephone calls designed to block the adoption. Succumbing to the pressure, the 10 municipalities withdrew the adoption and switched to a textbook published by another company. Even enveloped razor blade was sent to a marked education board member in other region of the country.
     However, NHK failed to report the incident in which the municipalities were actually forced to make changes to their textbook adoption decisions, while exaggerating the Nada Junior High School case where the postcard messages gave some comments but did not demand retraction of the adoption. NHK’s attitude represents erratic double standard.

New campaign to topple the Abe government
     Second, the Manabisha history textbook is fiercely biased, featuring agitations emphasizing atrocities for which they blame Japan. The authors include a leader of an education organization related to the Japanese Communist Party. If the parent-teacher association of the elite school knows the reality of the textbook, there will be a drastic repercussion.
     Third, the Manabisha textbook fails to describe a complete history in defiance of government guidelines. The chairperson of the Education Ministry’s Textbook Authorization Council History Subcommittee had admitted this textbook as failing to meet the framework of the government guidelines. As the textbook runs counter to the guidelines, it should not have been passed the textbook screening. Nevertheless, the Education Ministry was led to make a political decision to authorize them. The decision was unjustifiable.
     Fourth, the Nada Junior High School textbook case was first reported by Osaka Mainichi Broadcasting on July 30, followed by many other media organizations. Triggering the reporting was an essay by Nada’s principal Magohiro Wada, which describes Masanori Mizuma, a scholar of modern history who initiated the postcards, as a lecturer for the Japan Conference, a conservative political organization. The description is a groundless fake. By suggesting that the Japan Conference and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were behind the Nada Junior High School textbook case, media organizations might have had a vicious attempt to use the case as the third scandal for campaigns to topple the Abe government, following the discounted sale of state-owned land to the Osaka-based school corporation Moritomo Gakuen and the government’s approval of a new veterinary school for Kake Educational Institution.

Nobukatsu Fujioka is a visiting professor at Takushoku University.