Monitor response to a previous letter

Editor's note: A Dec. 14 letter from the Japanese consulate in Boston made several critical comments about a Nov. 22 article, "Tokyo teacher embattled over war history." Here is the Monitor's response:

Japan's version of its World War II history has been a source of contention, mainly in parts of Asia. In the Tsukuru-Kai textbooks used in some Japanese schools, the message is conveyed, if indirectly, that the United States essentially forced Japan into a defensive war during the months leading to Pearl Harbor.

Sales of the Tsukuru-Kai textbooks, while indeed small, have risen in the past several years across Japan, including Tokyo, where Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has promoted the texts on television. This summer, some 12 prefecture assemblies, the city of Niigata, and the Tokyo ward of Itabashi formally accepted Tsukuru-Kai's petition to be on their local list of books that can be considered for purchase and adoption. That can put pressure on schools.

The story did incorrectly represent the Kimigayo anthem, required since 2003 to be sung in many Tokyo schools at key events, as a pledge. Teachers questioning why it must be mandatory have been censured.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. 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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