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Textbook Guidelines Actually Depend on Historical Perspectives

icon2016/05/24
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 A Commentary

Textbook Guidelines Actually Depend on Historical Perspectives

Tuan Hsin-yi (段心儀)

Chairperson of Chinese Language Promotion Association

Source: China Times

May 24, 2016

On May 21, Education Minister  Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) held his first press conference and announced six important policies, including two policies related to the nation’s high school history textbook guidelines.  The minor adjustments to the history textbook guidelines were made to reflect “historical perspectives” and accusations of so-called “backroom deals” were intented to blur the focus of attention.  We can only wait and see which historical perspective the Education Ministry will adopt in the future.

 

The history textbook guidelines for Social Studies in the 12-year education plan have not been made public.   However, Pan announced that he was scrapping the minor adjustments to the history textbook guidelines made in 2014.  The 17 adjustments made to the history textbook guidelines in 2012, included: 1) The term “aborigines” was replaced with the phrase “aboriginal nations.” 2) The phrase “Ruled by Zheng Chenggong (鄭成功)” was replaced with “Ruled by Zheng Chenggong of the Ming Dynasty. 3) The phrase “Age of Discovery” was replaced with “Hans Come to Taiwan.” 4) The phrase “receiving Taiwan” was replaced with “Restoration of Taiwan.” 5) The addition of the phrase “Development of Chinese and pluralistic culture.”  6) The phrase “Japanese rule” was replaced with “Japanese colonial rule.”  7) The phrase “comfort women” was replaced with “women were forced to become comfort women (into sexual slavery).”

 

Most people do not have any problem with the minor adjustments to the history textbook guidelines, but for the DPP, it is of critical importance.  Culture Minister Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) proposed rescinding the adjustments to the history textbook guidelines while she served as a DPP legislator.   Education Minister Pan announced that he would scrap the 2014 adjustments to the history textbook guidelines on May 21 and complete the guidelines for Social Studies in the 12-year national education program.   When Japan occupied Taiwan, was it not Japanese colonial rule? Does anyone really believe that “comfort women” volunteered to become sexual slaves?

 

What is a colony?  Since Japan occupied Taiwan, the Japanese invasion of Taiwan (乙未戰爭), the Battle of Baguashan (八卦山戰役), the Beipu Uprising (北埔事件), the Xilai Temple Incident (西來庵事件), and the Musha incident (霧社事件) resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths from 1895 to 1915.  Japan used the police to control Taiwan.  People in Taiwan could not enjoy the right to participate in politics.  Rice and sugar produced in Taiwan was required to be exported to Japan.  If Taiwan was not a colony, what was it?

 

Grandma Hsiao Tao (小桃阿嬤), who was born in 1922 and died at 94, was forced to become a “comfort woman” during World War II by Japanese troops, and she never received an apology from the Japanese government.   Grandma Hsiao Tao studied in the best senior girls’ high school as a teenager, but she was taken by the Japanese police to the port of Kaohsiung and forced to serve as a “comfort woman.”  Was grandma Hsiao Tao not forced to become a “comfort woman”?

 

The controversy over the adjustments to the history textbook guidelines was not the “Historical view of the Republic of China” vs. the “Historical view of Taiwan independence,” but the “Historical view of the Republic of China” vs. the “Historical view of Japanese colonial rule.”  If Education Minister Pan  adopted “Japanophile history textbook guidelines,” it would not only damage Minister Pan’s reputation, but also be detrimental to the historical status of President Tsai Ing-wen.

 

Minister Pan must ponder whether or not the Mainland would interpret the Education Ministry’s attitude toward history textbook guidelines as “Cultural Taiwan Independence.” Minister Pan must also carefully consider whether the “historical view of Japanese colonial rule” would become part of the history textbook guidelines.

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