A thousand Japanese facebook users unknowingly endorsed and shared a fictitious image [ja] that seemed to be an official publication and highlighted the negative impact Japan's apologetic stance in history has on the country's children.
A citizen journalist traced the image, which even has the official government seal of Japan in its top-left corner, (although the government does not use this seal for its official publications) to a right-wing Facebook page.
Facebook user Tsubasa who liked the image wrote[ja] in support of a patriotic view:
I'm sick and tired of introspective history textbooks. I want the children today to learn from legit textbooks. I don't mean to glamorize the war, but people need to think what they fought and died for.
The fabricated image took a life of its own on Facebook when it was shared along with famous quotes, from Indian jurist Radha Binod Pal, Thailand politician Kukrit Pramoj, Indonesian scholar Arifin Bey and British historian Arnold J. Toynbee, that reinforced the idea that Japan's war posture was always for Asia's liberation.
Earlier this year, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, almost offended China and Korea, when he signaled that he would “review” the country's apologies made in the past for its World War II aggression. Later, he backtracked and said would not review Japan’s wartime history and that he would abide by the official stances of his predecessors on the issue.
Facebook user Rie noticed it was fake:
This image is fake. I've checked and I can tell you there's no such government publication. It's insane for somebody to intentionally create a fake government image and amplify it on facebook. I don't understand why they do this on purpose.
Citizen journalist Norifumi Ohtani at Miyazaki Citizen Media criticized [ja] social media users who shared this image without verifying its source and traced the image to right wing activists who apparently fabricated the image, and gave it an official government seal.
The image of the uniformed child originated from an online shopping site for children's school-bags. Ohtani wrote a series of analysis [ja] on how the image was edited and right-wing text and a government seal were added, before it was appropriated on a Facebook page and shared without context.
I saw this on my Facebook feed on April 15, 2013. […] Apparently this image gained more than 1300 Likes with many comments. I wondered when this image was released by the Cabinet Public Relation Office. So I checked the website of the Office [ja] but I couldn't find one like this.
Then I thought, maybe this image is a fabrication. So I searched for more information.
The one I saw on Facebook was posted by “Japanism“[ja], a Facebook page that has 4,617 likes.
There was no reference of source in the description of the image so I searched on Google with words like “Cabinet Public Relations Office Let's teach our children the true history” and arrived to this page.
It directed me to a Twitter account that intentionally amplified this image.
It is okay to quote blogger's posts, but when you quote, make sure you name the source.
I think people should refrain from abruptly sharing facebook images, [out of context] when they do not reflect the agenda of the author.
Maybe it's nice to pause for a second and verify where the source comes from.
The alleged creator of the image was a Facebook fan page called “反日対策協議会” [eliminate anti-Japanese activity]. They have since admitted [ja] that it was fake, meant to be ‘parody.’ The Facebook page of Japanism also added a comment [ja], apologizing for sharing the image without checking where it came from.
Ohtani criticized [ja] the ‘parody’ which mislead citizens, saying that right-wing activists went too far in disguising themselves as a government publication.