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Publishers revise term “military comfort women” in response to Cabinet decision

By Ito Kazuyuki, staff writer

 

In response to the April 2021 Cabinet decision that the term “military comfort women” “could lead to misunderstanding,” three publishers of junior high school and high school textbooks —Yamakawa Publishing Co., Jikkyo Publishing Co., and Shimizu Shoin—applied in late June to change the term in 11 instances in a total of 10 textbooks. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) approved the changes on Sept. 8.

 

The Cabinet stated that it is more appropriate to use the term “comfort women” than “military comfort women” or “so-called military comfort women.” Meanwhile, it upheld the 1993 statement by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei, which included the term “so-called comfort women.” In May, MEXT held a meeting with textbook publishers and said that the ministry would accept applications for revisions through the end of June.

 

Yamakawa either omitted the term “so-called comfort women” or eliminated the word “military.” Shimizu kept the “so-called military women” in its high school textbook and added the government’s perspective in a side note: “The Japanese government deems the term ‘comfort women’ to be appropriate.”

 

In addition, the Cabinet determined that it is inappropriate to use the term “forced conscription” to describe labor by Koreans who were brought to Japan during the war. The three aforementioned publishers as well as Tokyo Shoin and Teikoku Shoin revised the term in 53 instances in 28 textbooks that used the terms “conscription” or “forced conscription.” (Abridged)

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