By Ujioka Mayumi and Kitano Ryuichi, senior staff writers, and Ito Kazuyuki, staff writer
With the finalization of the government’s written response regarding the term “military comfort women,” the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) held an informational meeting on May 18 for school textbook publishers to clarify the government’s position that the term is misleading, the Asahi Shimbun learned recently. The 20 companies that attended the online meeting were informed that the deadline for applying for correction is the end of June. According to the publishers, MEXT said it may issue an advisory to publishers that do not apply for correction.
“Although it is unusual to hold such a meeting, we did so in order to inform the publishers about the current Diet discussions,” said a MEXT official. “It will be left up to the publishers whether to correct the term or not.”
At the meeting, MEXT presented the “overall schedule” in document form, informing the participants that “applications for correction (if necessary) are due by the end of June,” “the textbook authorization council will meet in July,” and “approval will be issued in August.”
“It was like being quietly urged to apply for the correction by the end of the month,” a textbook editor said. Another said, “If the ministry issues an advisory to our company, we will be branded as such, possibly disadvantaging us in the textbook selection process in the future.”
There are three textbooks that use the term “so-called military comfort women,” one for junior high schools and two for high schools.
MEXT does not deny that publishers include [in the textbooks] the government’s position, as explained in the written response, along with the term “military comfort women.” (Abridged)