- The Washington Times - Friday, April 8, 2005

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Asahi Shimbun

Unfit schoolbooks

TOKYO — The Ministry of Education … has finished screening textbooks to be used by junior high school students from the next scholastic year. Among those approved are revised history and civics textbooks written under the supervision of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform (Tsukurukai). …

The history textbook of four years ago devoted two pages to the myth of Yamatotakeru-no-Mikoto, the son of a legendary emperor in ancient Japan. This myth has been deleted from the just-approved textbook. Also gone is a note written by a kamikaze pilot before his attack during World War II.

And whereas the old textbook ran the entire text of the Imperial Rescript on Education, the new textbook carries only an abridged version. But there is still unmistakable emphasis on Japan’s emperor system. An entire page is devoted to the conquest of the eastern provinces by Emperor Jinmu, who was probably just another mythical figure.

The most disturbing thing about this textbook, however, is its consistent attempt to portray Japan’s modern and contemporary history, which has bright and dark sides, in the most self-serving light.

[Items] have been added, saying that Japanese [expansion] inspired people in Asia and that Indonesians welcomed Japanese soldiers as liberators. The textbook also explains in great detail the 1943 conference in Tokyo in 1943 attended by the leaders of regions under Japanese occupation.

New Vision

Electing an African pope

KAMPALA, Uganda — The world is mourning the death of Pope John Paul II who passed away [last] Saturday night. We join the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics to pray for the soul of the man who headed the Roman Catholic Church for 26 years and left it strong and united.

John Paul II will be remembered as a champion of the downtrodden. He condemned wars in the former Yugoslavia, genocide in Rwanda and called for peace in the Middle East.

He preached forgiveness and backed his messages with actions when he visited, and forgave his would-be assassin in 1981.

[The College of Cardinals] needs to decide whether the next pope should come from the West [as] nearly 65 percent of Catholics live in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This is a golden opportunity for Africa. Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria seems to be the likely candidate from Africa.

Cardinal Arinze comes from the same conservative school as the late pope. He is said to take a hard-line position on abortion, contraception and homosexuality.

Ninety-seven percent of the 120 cardinals who form the College of Cardinals were appointed by Pope John Paul II and are from the conservative school. They should therefore find Cardinal Arinze suitable for the papacy.

Reforma

Reconciling the church

MEXICO CITY — John Paul II was a pope who strictly followed orthodoxy on issues that in these past years have been the subject of controversy among Catholics — abortion, euthanasia, birth control, divorce, homosexuality, the role of women in the church, the celibacy of priests, scientific research in human biology. In all of these areas John Paul maintained an inflexible attitude and earned a reputation as an ultraconservative, even intransigent. …

… John Paul II reconciled the Catholic Church with the Jews, with Orthodox [Christians], and with believers in eastern doctrines. The new pope’s mission — though this sounds strange — should be to reconcile the Catholic Church with Catholics; hear their complaints … show a great openness on issues in which Catholics already have advanced, such as the use of contraceptives banned by the church. …

The new pope should launch another great revolution, this time in the heart of the church, that will prevent this institution from continuing to weaken because of its lack of understanding of the current reality, and as a result of its putting the rigidity of doctrines above … justice and love.

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