[ed] Text on ‘comfort women’

The government’s effort to educate the nation’s students on the realities of former “comfort women” is laudable in its aim That was until Rep. Han Sun-gyo of the ruling Saenuri Party who is also a member of the National Assembly Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee alerted the public to the “inappropriate” descriptions regarding women forcibly mobilized for sexual slavery by the Japanese army during World War II. The descriptions appeared in the draft of the supplementary educational text for both teachers and students at elementary, middle and high schools.

The supplementary education materials come in the form of text books, PPT and videos under a joint effort by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and the Ministry of Education. The move to educate the students on comfort women early on comes after Tokyo’s aggressive moves to reinterpret its past history.

The material in the case of a video shows one section where a former sex slave returns to her hometown to listen to people whisper that she “sold” her body to Japanese soldiers for three years. One has to wonder about the educational effect such wording would have on elementary school students. In the workbook for the same students, such words as “infection of sexual disease,” “abortion” and “sterilization” appear, prompting questions once again about their relevancy. The text for the elementary and middle school students has content detailing the reason why Japan set up the “comfort stations” that include claims such as preventing sexual violence and loss of war capability of soldiers infected with sexual disease ?those akin to the Japanese rationale behind why they set up military brothels euphemized as “comfort stations” during the war

Facing criticism, the two ministries said Wednesday that they will revise the problematic descriptions. It is fortunate that the government responded swiftly. It is not an easy task to explain the sensitive war crime of sexual slavery to young students. The issue of sexual slavery of women by the Japanese army is now a source of the diplomatic rift between Seoul and Tokyo, but the issue only largely came to public attention when former comfort women in the nation began to speak up in the early 1990s. There may not be that much time left as the supplementary educational texts are due for release at the end of this month. But concerned experts and officials must focus more on writing down the facts properly and correctly.

SOURCE: The Korea Times

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