- Associated Press - Sunday, February 7, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Guidelines for California educators on how to teach history students about the use of female sex slaves by Japanese soldiers during World War II have prompted debate in Japanese and Korean communities here and abroad.

The controversy concerns two sentences about so-called “comfort women” in the nearly 1,000-page “History/Social Science framework” released in December, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday (http://lat.ms/1Putkpu ).

The passage has been met with celebration among Korean American groups that have campaigned to bring attention to the issue in the U.S. Meanwhile some Japanese groups consider it an unfairly negative portrayal of their home country, the newspaper said.

Historians believe that as many as 200,000 girls and women from Korea, China and other occupied nations were forced into Japanese military brothels. However, many Japanese and Japanese-Americans dispute the claims.

The guidelines recommend that the subject of “comfort women” be taught to high schoolers as an “example of institutionalized sexual slavery, and one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century.”

The passages were incorporated into the draft framework at the urging of Korean community groups, the newspaper said. Nancy McTygue and Bill Honig, co-chairs of the History-Social Science subject matter committee, said they consulted the latest historical research and survivors’ testimony and concluded there was enough evidence for it to be taught in schools.

The new language on “comfort women” marks the first proposal to teach in high school classes in the U.S. what has been a long-contentious political issue in East Asia. It has the potential to widely influence how textbooks address the topic, the Times said.

After the conservative Japanese newspaper Sankei reported on the new framework in December, under the tag “History Wars,” an online petition on Change.org has collected signatures protesting the description. The petition asks that the passages be amended to also describe comfort women as “well-paid prostitutes” and that they also served Allied troops in Japan immediately after the war.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/

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