Letters

Japanese textbooks don't obscure World War II history

In response to the Nov. 22 article, "Tokyo teacher embattled over war history," I would like to draw your attention to some misunderstandings of the facts.

The first paragraph contains the criticism that "books claiming America caused the war are now adopted by an entire city ward." First, all textbooks used by Japanese schools have to be approved by the government. This process of approval is intended to assure an objective and well- balanced treatment of facts through the elimination of errors and contradictions. It is inconceivable that a review panel would allow a textbook containing such a statement to pass.

Second, textbooks in Japan are edited and published by private entities. Schools are free to choose from those that are approved by the government. The rate for the next school year of the adoption of the Tsukuru-Kai textbook mentioned in the article is only 0.4 percent.

The article also mentions children pledging allegiance to the emperor as they did in the 1930s, and curriculums failing to mention Japan's invasion of Korea and China. The present status of the emperor is different from what it was in the 1930s. Schoolchildren today are taught about the new status of the emperor, as stipulated in Article 1 of the Japanese Constitution, and no public schools urge their students to pledge allegiance to the emperor.

With respect to Japan's military acts during the war, educators are required by official guidelines (known as the "Course of Study" and promulgated by the Ministry of Education and Science) to have their students understand the series of events that led to war and to understand that the war caused tremendous damage and suffering to people of many countries in the world. If curriculums fail to mention Japan's invasion of Korea and China, they would not be following the "Course of Study."

I understand that your article was intended to tell your readers that "nationalist policies are creeping into the minutiae of daily life in Japan's capital city," and that "Tokyo schools reflect nationalist views." However, I must say that facts quoted in your article backing these statements were inaccurate and led to a misleading conclusion. I hope my letter contributes to bringing greater clarity to this issue.
Yuzo Sekigawa
Consul for Information and Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Japan
Boston

Secession is a constitutional right

The Nov. 8 article, "Seceding seldom succeeds, but Vermonters try," states that many today claim that secession would violate national law. But there is not a "nation" known as the United States of America. The US is a voluntary union of free, independent states.

I think Abraham Lincoln took steps to destroy all that America's founders had built in his war to force the seceding states to remain a part of the Union. And I believe anyone who truly knows the US Constitution recognizes that Lincoln's actions were unconstitutional. St. George Tucker's "Blackstone" is a primary work from 1803 that organizes and quantifies the laws of the new Union, and it states that the Union is a free and voluntary association. Other works from this era and forward state the same.

Also, the Constitution itself establishes that a "Union" is formed, not a "nation." Most people today have been taught, through recitation of the pledge of allegiance, to believe that America is one nation.

But since the US is a free and voluntary association, then secession must be fully a part of the association.
F.W. Boyle, Jr.
Las Cruces, N.M.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.

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