Textbook Tensions

Careful the tale you tell, that is the spell," sings the witch in Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods. "Children will listen." Some students may snooze through history class, but most ordinary citizens get their understanding of the past in school. China and South Korea are bitterly criticizing Japan for its history textbooks that gloss over World War II brutalities and other historical misdeeds. There's a dose of hypocrisy in that charge: China's and South Korea's textbooks are hardly models of historical accuracy.

The textbook issue first became a regional flash point in 1982, when Japanese schoolchildren were...

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