Fwd: Nobel Prize Nomination for Ienaga Saburo

Saul Thomas stthomas at SPAMmidway.uchicago.edu
Mon Jan 22 08:36:38 MST 2001

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

An international effort is underway to nominate IENAGA Saburo for a
Nobel Peace Prize. This is in recognition of his lifetime effort to
challenge the system of Japanese government textbook censorship that
has long impeded efforts to come to terms with the legacy of war and
colonialism and to honor his contributions as an historian to the
cause of peace. Ienaga has been at the forefront of struggles by
Japanese educators and researchers to come to terms with such
legacies as the Nanjing Massacre, the "Comfort Women", biological
warfare Unit 731 and other wartime atrocities. These issues bear the
imprint, direct and indirect, of his work as an historian and a
public intellectual. (Apologies if you have already received this

A Hong Kong group of human rights activists has taken the lead in
nominating Ienaga, beginning with a press conference and announcement
of the nomination. This has now given rise to a global effort. This
material is available on a web site: http://www.vcn.bc.ca/alpha

An international group is now preparing the nomination to go forward
to the Nobel Committee, with efforts presently centered in North
America, Europe and Japan. We invite your support both in signing the
letter of nomination and disseminating the statement to other
communities and individuals.

Nominators include: Giovanni Arrighi, Theodore Bestor, Herbert Bix,
Bruce Cumings, Deborah Davis, Brett De Bary, John W. Dower, Peter
Duus, Richard Falk, Andrew Gordon, Robert E. Hegel, Laura Hein, Peter
Katzenstein, J. Victor Koschmann, Robert Marks, Richard H. Minear,
Jonathan Mirsky, Jennifer Robertson, James C. Scott, Mark Selden,
Robert J. Smith Yue-him Tam, Immanuel Wallerstein, Lawrence Wittner,
Peter Zarrow, Kate Xiao Zhou, and Howard Zinn.

Below find the letter of nomination that forms the basis of the
campaign. If you wish to associate your name with the nomination, we
ask that you respond both by e-mail and letter to Richard Minear (the
Nobel people ask that we provide a paper record):
rhminear at history.umass.edu indicating your support for the nomination
and giving name, title and institutional affiliation (for purposes of
identification only).

1.  To respond by e-mail, please simply indicate your willingness and give
name, title, and institutional affiliation (for purposes of identification
2.  To respond in writing, please print the following, fill in the
blanks, and mail to:
              Richard H. Minear
              History Department
              University of Massachusetts
              Amherst MA 01003

To the Norwegian Nobel Committee
Drammensvn. 19

January  2001

Dear Committee Members

I, the undersigned, hereby nominate Professor Saburo Ienaga for the Nobel
Peace Prize 2001.

I do so for the reasons set out in the nomination letter signed by Mr Allen
Lee and Professor Joseph Cheng dated 20 December 2000.

Name:  ______________________________ (please print or type)

Signed: ______________________________

Title:    ______________________________

Institution:  ___________________________ (for purposes of identification



December 20, 2000

The historian George Santayana wrote that "Whoever forgets the past
is doomed to relive it."

As we enter a new century there is a continuing danger that the
lessons of the horror of world war which were so bitterly learned in
the first half of the twentieth century may be forgotten.

Professor Saburo Ienaga has devoted a large part of his life to
ensuring that the truth about what happened in Asia in the Second
World War is known and remembered in his native Japan.

Professor Ienaga was born in 1913 in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, and
graduated from the Literature Department at Tokyo Imperial University
( the present Tokyo University) in 1937. He became a teacher and in
1941 at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour he was a
teacher in a high school in Niigata. He did not participate in the
Second World War, and has spoken of his shame at failing to offer
resistance as a teacher to the compulsory teaching of war propaganda
and imperial myths at his high school during the war.

Professor Ienaga later became a professor at Tokyo University of
Education and subsequently at Chuo University. He was awarded the
Japan Academy Prize in 1948 and the title of Professor Emeritus at
Tokyo University of Education. He became a specialist in the history
of Japanese thought and Japanese cultural and legal history, and is
the author of nearly one hundred works spanning from ancient to
contemporary subjects. His broad range of subjects include
"Historical study of the Independence of the Judiciary", "The
Constitution in Historical Context", "Japanese Cultural History", and
"The Pacific War".

In 1965 Professor Ienaga initiated a court case in Tokyo by suing the
Japanese Government, which through "textbook screening" i.e.
amendment and censorship of school textbooks, had been controlling
the content of history taught in secondary schools. Books censored
had included some of Professor Ienaga's works. Professor Ienaga then
initiated his second and third lawsuits against the government.
Through the textbook screening the government repeatedly removed or
softened truthful descriptions of atrocities committed by the
Japanese military before and during World War II. A notable example
was the Government's insistence in Ienaga's third lawsuit that
references to the Nanking Massacre had to be " mentioned as what
happened in confusion", although the massacre in fact involved the
systematic killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians over a
period of weeks. Another issue in dispute was the government's
insistence that all textbooks avoid the negative expression
"aggression" in relation to the Japanese Army's occupation of China
and instead use only the term "military advance". Professor Ienaga's
case was based on the argument that textbook screening violated the
freedom of expression and freedom of education guaranteed in the
Japanese constitution, and so were unconstitutional and illegal.

Professor Ienaga lost the first two lawsuits which he brought against
the government in 1965 and 1967. The first suit lasted 27 years until
1993, and the second lasted 22 years from 1967 to 1989. In 1984 he
initiated a third suit arising from eight screening comments made by
the government on his draft textbooks from 1980 to 1983. In 1989 the
district court ruled against most of his arguments. He then appealed
to the High Court which ruled that three of the eight screening
comments were illegal. These three screening comments include those
relating to the description of the Nanking Massacre, including
mention of widespread rape.

In 1997 Professor Ienaga's appeal on the remaining five points
finally reached the Japanese Supreme Court, which ruled 3-2 in
Professor Ienaga's favour that the Education Ministry had acted
illegally when it removed from one of Professor Ienaga's textbooks a
description of Japan's biological experiments on 3000 people in
northern China during World War II. In these biological experiments,
conducted by a germ warfare group called Unit 731, subjects were
operated on without anaesthetics, injected with diseases such as
typhoid and allowed to die without treatment. The Japanese Government
has never acknowledged the existence of this unit, but its existence
is documented because of the later confessions by some of the doctors
involved in the activities.

Ienaga's court challenge encouraged many school textbook authors to
include descriptions of Japanese war atrocities in their texts. As a
result, textbooks were significantly improved in the late 1980s and
early 1990s.

However despite the fact that Professor Ienaga has devoted himself
full time to the issue of the textbook screening since his
retirement, and has been battling continuously to make it possible
for the truth about World War II to be told since before he commenced
his first legal action 35 years ago, his victory in 1997 was only
partial. The Supreme Court rejected claims that four other portions
of his book had been illegally censored including a passage which
described the rape of Chinese women by Japanese soldiers in Northern

This partial victory reflects a continuing divide in Japan between
those like Professor Ienaga who want the truth about World War II to
be known and revisionists who claim that well-documented war crimes
and atrocities did not occur. These revisionist claims are often used
by right wing militarist groups and their sympathisers which continue
to exercise an insidious influence on Japanese society. Those like
Professor Ienaga who have spoken out for the truth have often been
physically attacked by extremists or otherwise penalised. When
Professor Ienaga first gained a victory in one of his textbook
lawsuits in 1970 right-wing extremists issued death threats to him (
as well as to the judge and to lawyers involved in the case) and his
house was surrounded day and night by thugs who kept him awake by
shouting slogans and banging pots and pans. The actions of Professor
Ienaga in continuing to fight for the truth have therefore required
great courage, as well as determination and persistence.

By his determined fight over so many years to ensure that Japanese
young people are able to read the truth about their country's recent
history Professor Ienaga has done more than probably any other living
person to ensure that the lessons of the history of World War II in
Asia are not forgotten and that George Santayana's grim prophecy is
not fulfilled in this region of the world. His contribution deserves
the international recognition which the Nobel Peace Prize confers and
the aims of ensuring lasting peace and discouraging revival of
militarism will be greatly furthered by such an award. We therefore
nominate Professor Ienaga for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.

Allen Lee
Joseph Cheng

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