Support Statements of Nominators and Supporters

The Honorable David Anderson, P.C., Minister of Environment for Canada

    I have admired Professor Saburo Ienaga for many decades. I consider it a great honour to write this letter endorsing the nomination of Professor Ienaga for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. He is a unique member of his generation. To miss this opportunity to recognize him and his work would be lamentable.

    Professor Ienaga has sought the truth in Japanese history in spite of prohibitive laws and in spite of great risk to him personally from those who live in fear of truth and honesty. His motivation has been the education of the Japanese people to inspire in them a desire for peace and to ensure past atrocities are never repeated.

    He is both a distinguished lecturer and a prolific writer. His canon is extensive and diverse in the topics and eras he has covered. Many years ago I read his book The Pacific War and found it to be a beacon of integrity, like the man himself. It was a revelation to read this penetrating analysis of such a difficult period of history.

      Historians and academics dedicate their professional lives to contemplating, researching and writing about their area of study. Such application demands concentration and tenacity. Professor Ienaga’s commitment to his work, however, has required further tenacity because of the Japanese Government’s policy of “text book screening.” The lengthy court challenges he initiated to secure the right to write the truth must be accounted for when measuring Professor Ienaga’s perseverance.

      His continuation of this fight over 35 years and well into his retirement reveals the character of a man who places principle over personal interests, reason and knowledge over fear and ignorance.

     I respectfully urge the committee to recognize Professor Ienaga’s contribution to the pursuit of truth and peace and award him the Nobel Peace Prize.

Linda Gail Arrigo, Ph.D. Sociology, Resident Director, Council for International Educational Exchange, Taipei Study Center, Taiwan

I believe that it is extremely important that Japanese wartime atrocities and other unacceptable behavior are recognized historically and condemned, because this sets a standard that should be
applied as well to other countries and places and times.

Congressman David Bonior, U.S.A.

I would llike to respectfully express my support for othe nomination of Professor Ienaga Saburo, by a diverse and distinguished group of scholars and statesmen, for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Professor Ienaga has devoted more than half his life in the service of peace, democracy, and academic truth and freedom, as an author, teacher, and activist. For over the past thirty-five years, he has engaged in a personal struggle to present an accurate historical account to public school students of Japan's colonial rule in Korea; its role in igniting a war of aggression and conquest in China that engulfed most of Asia and the pacific; and its responsibility for the deaths of some twenty million Asians (excluding Japan's own 3.5 million war dead), an unknown but large number of whom were civilian men, women, and children and prisoners of war who were starved, beaten, worked, raped, or tortured (either gratuitously, or as subjects of bio-chemical warfare experiments) to death by Japanese ground forces, or simply murdered out of hand.

The text of Professor Ienaga stands in stark contrast to official versions of these events, which have, to this day, sanitized, rationalized, minimized, or ignored them altogether. This reflects the widely held view within and without official circles that atrocities committed during the war are mizu ni nagasu, 'water under the bridge'. Through his work, Professor Ienaga has endeavored, in a figurative sense, to reverse these historical currents and compel the Japanese people, especially its younger generations, to stand on this bridge and look down into the water. In so doing, he has displayed a high degree of moral as well as physical courage. He has been defamed, ostracized, harassed, and threatened with physical violence. (Such threats carry a definite element of personal risk; other prominent figures who have publicly expressed similar views have been assaulted, a few have been killed.) He has not been discouraged, intimidated or silenced.

John J. Clancey, Chairperson, Asian Human Rights Commission

Realizing the people are

- caught in a web of deceipt and delusion, surrounded by sounds shouting that certain events should be forgotten,

- while others subtly suggest those events perhaps never transpired or were grossly exaggerated,

A lonely voice insisted on remembering what really occurred and teaching the truth to students.

While others built barriers between the Japanese people and their neighbours by denying what their military had done,

One man tried to build bridges by documenting and teaching about what had happened in the past. 

In a world where it has become an acceptable standard to deny the truth and state what is considered convenient, Professor Ienaga has insisted that the truth be told.

In a world where it has become common place for politicians, and even societies as a whole,

to tamper with the truth so as to slightly distort it,
to trample the truth beyond recognition,
in attempts to avoid dealing with what actually occurred,

The steadfastness of Professor Ienaga, in the face of opposition and threats, in insisting on the truth demands recognition and honour.


While others for various reasons fear the truth and attempt to conceal it or distort it, Professor Ienaga realises that the truth will set people free :

- to admit and apologize for what was done in the past and

- to develop the basis for building peaceful relations in the world.

True peace is built on truth.

Professor Ienaga’s work in the service of truth has made a significant contribution towards building peace.


Libby Davies, Member of the House of Commons, Canada

Education and awareness are key in truly understanding historical events. Professor Ienaga's work for peace displays a courage and persistence that are inspiring.

Basil Fernando, Executive Director, Asian Human Rights Commission

Hong Kong, Revised on 30 January 2001

The Asian Human Rights Commission supports the nomination of Professor Ienaga Saburo for the Nobel Peace Prize, for his lifelong devotion to keeping alive the memory of Japanese atrocities in the Second World War, thereby promoting a wholesome view of history.

When dealing with the Asian regional human rights situation one cannot help but conclude that the language on suffering in common usage today inadequately expresses actual conditions.

Perhaps this underdevelopment of language is a result of the human mind preferring to not recognise reality; there is a direct link between forgetting and self-revenge. Many societies unable to deal with unacceptable historical behaviour in a conscious manner develop mechanisms that make society less creative and less humane. In their celebrated book The Inability to Mourn, Alexander and Margret Mitscherlich describe the illnesses German people experienced immediately after the Second World War due to their inability to accept and express regret over their responsibility for sufferings caused by the war.  Professor Ienaga’s work needs to be seen in this context.

Professor Ienaga has tried to create a language of human suffering that can break the limits of our ordinary usage and overcome socially induced barriers and illnesses. The memory of terribly cruel events and of those who perished can only be a sobering recollection. However the path of reconciliation is inseparably linked with recognition of the real and the actual. Human greatness can rise only by recognising its weakness. The moments that nations manifest their worst behaviour need to be kept in memory, as a warning against chauvinism. To develop the best a nation is capable of it is necessary to remember the worst.  If the 21st Century is to avoid the cruelties of the 20th Century, it is necessary that these not be forgotten. So it is that succeeding generations will be richer if Professor Ienaga’s work is available to them.  In  In her book, The Rape of Nanking, Iris Chang sums up Professor Ienaga's contribution in fighting Ministry of Education textbook censorship which had resulted in the elimination of numerous references to Japan's war atrocities.

Much of this censorship might have gone unchallenged had it not been for the efforts of one brave crusader.  In 1965 the Japanese historian lenaga Saburo sued the Japanese government. This lawsuit was the beginning of a legal battle that would span three decades and gain the backing of thousands of sympathetic Japanese followers. 

The tremendously humanising quality of Professor Ienaga's work demands recognition. The Asian Human Rights Commission supports his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. We believe that recognition of his work will greatly contribute to world discourse on reconciliation and peace as it will help to enrich our poor language on human suffering, humane morality and ethics.

Norma Field, Professor and Chair, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago

Professor Ienaga is an exemplary scholar who chose as his battleground for truth the school textbook.  This decision inspired countless Japanese schoolteachers and other ordinary citizens not only to join the fight but to sustain for well over three decades the effort to rectify the history-writing of Japan's role in World War II and to free textbooks from state censorship. His example was not only crucial in its time, but now, as the movement from within Japan to tell the truth about the brutal treatment Japan accorded its colonial subjects--the former military comfort women being salient but not unique among them--is threatened, the signal international recognition of the Nobel Peace Prize can become an active intervention for the preservation of peace. 

Lillian Mellen Genser, Former Director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan

For 35 years, this distinguished educator challenged the courts to deal with censorship of his work. He fought for the right of scholars, particularly those who authored textbooks, to honestly record truths about the period they were describing. The actions and atrocities committed by the Japanese soldiers and government have been documented by research.  Yet, the authorities censored his work by deleting all references to these actions and atrocities. Professor Ienaga is both a participant and honest objective observer of history. By this struggle, and even a partial victory against censorship he has made an enormous contribution to intellectual responsibility. At the same time he has set a global example of one man's courage to fight for freedom of expression and thought.

Andrew Gordon, Professor of History and Director of Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, Harvard University  

Ienaga Saburo has devoted his life to studying and presenting-- to people in Japan and around the world-- a clear account of the harsh history of Japan in the first half of the twentieth century.  This effort has also led him to play a pioneering role in defending freedom of expression and thought in the Japanese education system, thereby deepening the roots of freedom and democracy in Japan.  If honestly remembering the wars of the past can have any impact on preserving the peace of the present and future, then Ienaga has made some of the most important contributions one can imagine to the cause of peace in our time.

Rev. Thomas J. Gumbleton, Auxiliary Bishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit

Professor Saburo Ienaga is a man who persistently sought and fought for the truth so he could ensure world peace. The fact that the Japanese people were not told about what happened during WWII is a national tragedy. The aggression and atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army could recur anywhere and anytime unless humankind remembers and tries not to repeat these horrors.

Laura Hein, Dept. of History, Northwestern University, Illinois, USA

Professor Ienaga believes that the bedrock of democracy is an informed and active citizenry.  His fifty years of attempts to win the right to teach reflective national history in Japanese schools is a model for educators everywhere, not just Japan.  He has shouldered the responsibility of educating children to appreciate and foster democracy, which means teaching students how to judge for themselves when to support and when to oppose the policies of their own states.

Congressman Michael Honda, U.S.A.

While Professor Ienaga has a long record of scholarly endeavors to his credit, 1 believe he should be seriously considered for this prestigious award primarily because of his life-long commitment to historical accuracy. Japanese secondary school textbooks covering the topic of Japanese actions and involvement during World War II have not adequately told the story of Japanese wartime atrocities.

The Professor’s pursuit of justice includes initiating three lawsuits in response to Japanese government textbook screeners who have tried to revise his scholarly submissions of secondary school textbooks by removing description of the Nanking Massacre, acts of brutality by the Japanese Imperial Army, and inhumane experiments conducted by a Japanese biological germ warfare group referred to as Unit 731.  

I believe that Professor Ienaga's lifetime goal of teaching the truth about what happened during the Japanese Imperial Army's human rights violations in China and during World War II warrants his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize of 2001. It is through the courageous actions of individuals such as Professor Ienaga, an individual who has stood up for justice by simply telling the truth, that future generations learn the horrors of war and hopefully, arc given the chance to recognize warning signs that will help us all avert mistakes of the past.

Teruhisa Horio, Professor of Education, Chuo University, Tokyo

The historian Ienaga Saburo, realizing that the Japanese people’s freedom of thought would once again be ensnared (as it had been during World War II ) within dangerous webs of state-defined truths through textbook censorship, brought three lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the state textbook screening system. The first of these suits was initiated in 1965, and he continued to protest against the distortion of the historical truths, in order to fight for the academic and educational freedom, for thirty-two years. He was supported by many Japanese people, teachers and citizens, and was encouraged by Asian neighbors and scholars. His brave and thorough-going activities not only revealed his dignity, but also promoted a sensibility towards freedom of thought among Japanese people and contributed to a culture of peace in the global age.

Derek Lee, Member of the House of Commons, Canada

I am pleased to see support from many countries for the Nobel Peace Prize nomination of Professor Saburo Ienaga. This widespread support reflects our certainty that mankind will never be able to learn and advance, from accounts of history which are censored or purged of the truth.

Sophia Leung, C.M.,  Member of the House of Commons, Canada

 I am impressed by Prof. Saburo Ienaga's courage and dedication for historical truth to disclose the Japanese inhumanity of  World War II. So that we are able to hear the horrible truth and be aware of the negative impact on world peace.

Senator Carl Levin, U.S.A.

I am writing to support the nomination of Professor Saburo Ienaga for the Nobel Peace Prize. I believe that Professor Ienaga has exhibited a lifelong commitment to the lofty principles for which the Nobel Peace Prize stands.

For over thirty years, Professor Ienaga has been a lonely voice in Japan proclaiming the truth about World War II. It has been said that "those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it." By seeking to acknowledge the horrors of  the Second War War, and educate Japanese students about these events, he has fought to ensure that the horros of the Second World War are never forgotten.

Professor Ienaga has never ceased his efforts to ensure that we remember these dreadful events. He has persevered for enormous periods of time against great odds and opposition, and he has never wavered in his course. It is on account of this dedication to the cause of peace that I join the Michigan Historical Society of WWII in Asia in nominating Professor Ienaga for the Nobel Prize.

Richard H. Minear, Professor of History, University of Massachusetts/Amherst  

As a practicing historian, I encounter at every turn the power textbooks exercise over my students' minds. In Ienaga's Japan it is the government that influences the content of textbooks. In the United States today the problem is not the government but textbook publishers. As far as effects on students go, the difference is not great. In both cases, non-scholarly or extra-scholarly pressures play a major role in what our students read. And our students believe absolutely what they read in textbooks. So a large part of the academic enterprise, at least in my own teaching of history, is teaching against textbooks, trying to show students how textbooks are not "the facts" but arguments, how they shape our thinking. Ienaga's long and courageous stand against extra-scholarly pressures on the writing of textbooks is one that serves as a model for historians and history teachers around the world, indeed, for all people concerned with education.

Ienaga is famous for his lawsuits seeking to end government control of educational content. His efforts in support of the independence of teachers and against excessive reliance on educational testing have drawn less attention, but they are at least as important. Both of these issues are of great relevance today in the United States and, I think, in other countries, too. No matter what form of government we happen to live under, teachers, students, and the general public face similar challenges to the independence of the classroom. The fact that Ienaga has worked against trends in Japan is irrelevant, for he has confronted fundamental educational issues that are universal. Once again, Ienaga has set a sterling example for the rest of us.

Finally, Ienaga has been startlingly successful in mobilizing nation-wide support for his cause. In what other country today has the name of a university professor of history become a household word? What other non-governmental educational crusade has drawn to it such an explosion of popular concern and energy? Ienaga lost many of his battles in the courts, but outside the courts he has won broad public support for his cause. As one of Ienaga's colleagues predicted in 1997, "in the court of history" Ienaga will prevail.

Dr. Takaniitsu Muraoka,  Full Professor of Hebrew, Ugaritic and Israelite Antiquities, Leiden University, The Netherlands

As a professor of Hebrew and other Oriental languages and cultures I have naturally been long interested in the question of anti-Semitism and now also in strained relationships between Japan, my home country, on the one hand, and countries such as Great Britain, Australia, The Netherlands and many other Asian countries on the other, in relation to the misdeeds perpetrated by the Japanese against citizens and soldiers of the named countries against which Japan waged the Pacific War and which she occupied. From this perspective I have immense admiration for the courageous stance Prof. Ienaga has taken over so many years in trying to ensure that Japanese citizens, especially the young, post-war generation of Japan are correctly informed about facts of the war which some Japanese, including the successive Japanese post-war governments, would rather see swept under the carpet. Such knowledge is of vital importance for our efforts for world peace and prevention of wars as a recourse to resolving international conflicts and sheer selfish aggression. I wholeheartedly align myself with those nominating Prof. Ienaga for the prize, which he, in my opinion, abundantly deserves.

Joe Peschisolido, Member of the House of Commons, Canada

For more than three decades, Professor Ienaga has fought relentlessly for truth in history textbooks. He has struggled against censorship and the distortion of historical truths. He believes future generations must be educated to understand and recognize the importance of the truth so that the nightmares of the past need not be repeated. Professor Ienaga's work in the service of truth and education has made a significant contribution towards building peace for the 21st century.

Svend Robinson, Member of the House of Commons, Canada

It is with a profound sense of honour that I join 251 distinguished academics and 18 legislators to put forward the name of Professor Saburo Ienaga for the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. It is indeed a privilege to ask that Professor Saburo Ienaga be recognized by what is arguably the international community’s highest honour.  Such a prize would be a well-deserved recognition of a life devoted to pursuit of the truth and historical accuracy. 

Dr. Felix J. Rogers, President of the Cranbrook Peace Foundation

I would like to endorse the nomination of Professor Ienaga for the Nobel Peace Prize 2001.
Professor 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. He is a specialist in the history of Japanese thought and Japanese cultural and legal history. He is the author of early 100 works spanning ancient to contemporary subjects. In 1965 he initiated a
court case in Tokyo, by suing the Japanese government for controlling the content of history taught in secondary schools. Through the textbook screening, the government repeatedly removed or softened truthful descriptions of atrocities committed by the Japanese military before World War II.

By his determined fight over 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 any other living person to ensure that the lessons of the history of World War II in Asia are not forgotten. His contribution deserves international recognition that the Nobel Peace Prize confers. The
aims of ensuring lasting peace and discouraging revival of militarism will be greatly furthered by such an award.

Mark Selden, Professor of Sociology and History, State University of New York at Binghamton

Ienaga Saburo has devoted his long and distinguished career as a historian and public intellectual to combatting textbook censorship and disclosing the truth about Japan's wartime atrocities from the military sexual slaves called 'Comfort Women' to the Nanjing Massacre to the activities of the biological warfare of Unit 731. For more than three decades his court challenges to the Ministry of Education Textbook Censorship system in general and to the suppression of these and other issues in particular have kept alive the possibility that Japan will come to terms with its past in ways that will contribute to reconciliation and a peaceful future. This constitutes a major contribution to the cause of peace and an example to other nations.

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