Nanking Massacre and the
School Textbook Screening Lawsuit

By Japanese History Professor
Saburo Ienaga

The debate has been smouldering in Japan for the past 50 years. Japanese history Professor Saburo Ienaga, who has now become for many the living conscience of Japan, had launched 3 highly publicized lawsuits against the Department of Education.

Durng World War II the Nanking Massacre was a secret strictly hidden from Japanese people. Only after the War did we come to know about what happened through news reports on the International Military Tribunal in Tokyo. I thought that we Japanese should feel ashamed because as perpetrators we didn't know anything about this major event which was very well-known among the victims and their compatriots. I therefore considered it as being necessary to mention it in the school history textbook. However, I decided not to do so as it was obvious during period of the 1970's that my entire textbook draft would have been rejected by the screening officials if I had touched on the subject.

Later on at the beginning of the 1980's I decided that the Nanking Massacre should be mentioned and I actually wrote about it. As expected, I was requested to revise the description of the subject. This indeed became one of the major issues of the school textbook screening lawsuit. In 1993 the Tokyo High Court ruled that the government (Ministry of Education) had acted illegally when screening the description of "Nanking Massacre" in my draft textbook. The government did not appeal this High Court ruling to the Supreme (highest) Court. As a result, the High Court ruling on the illegal screening regarding the Nanking Massacre was finalized. We are now able to openly write about it in the textbooks.

In August 1997 the Supreme Court issued the judgement that marked the conclusion of the school textbook lawsuit. Through the long process of the lawsuit, the final result is that nobody could now seriously argue that the Nanking Massacre was nothing but a fabrication.

Top of Page | Home Page