University chief justifies war in the Pacific at high school lecture

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The Kumamoto Prefect of Education confirmed that a university president and former Diet member defended the Pacific War as a just cause in a lecture she gave to high school students.

Kyoko Nishikawa, a former member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s lower house and deputy education minister, said Japan waged the war to help all nations in Asia prosper and gain independence.

During a December 9 session of the Kumamoto prefectural assembly, a member of the assembly asked questions about the comments made by Nishikawa, who is chairman of Kyushu International University in Kita-Kyusyu, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Yoichi Koga, head of the secretariat of the prefectural education council, admitted that Nishikawa made the comments, which he said were not fully in line with the central government’s position and curriculum guidelines.

Kyushu International University declined an interview request from Asahi Shimbun, saying the president was unavailable.

Nishikawa, 76, gave the talk on Oct. 8 at an event marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of Mifune Prefectural High School in Kumamoto, according to officials from the Prefectural Education and School Board.

The approximately 490 students listened to the lecture for about an hour at the school gymnasium or online.

In the middle of the conference, Nishikawa called the war in the Pacific a “war of the greater East Asia” and insisted on the legitimacy of the war, officials said.

The conference was organized by a committee made up of the alumni association of the school, the parents association as well as the teachers and staff. The school had no prior knowledge of the conference’s content, officials said.

The education council began questioning teachers and school staff in November after learning of Nishikawa’s remarks about the war from a member of the prefectural assembly who belongs to the Japanese Communist Party.

The board concluded that Nishikawa failed to provide sufficient explanation in light of Murayama’s 1995 statement and Ministry of Education guidelines for junior high school curricula.

The statement, issued by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, apologized for Japan’s “colonial rule” and “aggression” during World War II, while the guidelines say Japan caused a great harm to its Asian neighbors during the war.

Nishikawa was first elected to the Kyushu Bloc Lower House under the proportional representation system in 2000. She lost her Diet seat in 2014 and became president of the university in 2016.


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