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Japanese Schools Will Not Use Controversial History Textbook - 2001-08-16

In Japan, local schools have overwhelmingly declined to use a controversial government-approved history textbook. Critics say the text glosses over Japan's aggression before and during World War II.

The rebuff should provide some relief for the government of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, which has been under fire from neighboring Asian countries because of the issue.

The controversial Japanese history textbook will only be used by less than one percent of middle school students. According to surveys from both the book's publisher as well as from its opponents, the vast majority of schools rejected the book, written by nationalist authors.

South Korea and China have repeatedly criticized the book as a distortion of important historical events and for omitting much of Japan's wartime brutality in the region. The issue has seriously strained Japan's diplomatic relations with both countries.

Yoshifumi Tawara is the head of a civic group called the Children and Textbooks Japan Network. He commends school authorities around the country for rejecting it. He says the outcome shows that the Japanese people have common sense. He adds that people on the school boards have judged that the textbook is inappropriate for students.

Only a handful of public schools for disabled students and several private schools have adopted the text for use in class. Critics say conservative local politicians influenced the schools' choice.

A final tally on the book's usage from all of Japan's school districts will be released at the end of the month.