Japanese History

Academic, Politics

I missed this post by Tak at the time. It discusses the recent availability online of translations of Japanese history textbooks for middle-school:

Lastly, Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, the group of right-wing historians also known as tsukurukai or 新しい歴史教科書を作る会, has just published translations of their infamous textbook for middle-school students titled New History Textbook: Revised Edition (『改訂版 新しい歴史教科書』) in [Note: The following links are all PDF files:] English, Korean, and Chinese (simplified and traditional). The site has these translations as pdf files, and as far as I can tell the English one covers different chapters than the Chinese and Korean ones. (Hmmm…I wonder what they’re thinking, I should probably download them all before they take them down.) The group has also made some sections of the book available online here in Japanese.

I was stunned when I skimmed through the first page. Here’s just one paragraph:

The history you are about to study is the history of Japan. In other words, you will be familiarizing yourselves with the stories of your ancestors — your blood relatives. Your closest ancestors your parents, who were preceded by your four grandparents. As you go back further in time, number of ancestors increases with each generation. Then you realize that the humans populated the Japanese Archipelago are ancestors you share with the other students in classroom. In every era, Japanese history was made by ancestors common to all of us.

More recently, another site, JE Kaleidoscope, has made available all the history textbooks currently approved by the Japanese Ministry of Education. Not everything available in English yet, but there is quite a bit already up there, and more should be available soon.

There is also a new book that is worth noting: History Education and National Identity in East Asia. I read an earlier copy of the Taiwan chapter for my dissertation. It is a very useful overview of the reforms to the history curriculum that have taken place in Taiwan since the 90s. It is an expensive book, so you’ll want to get it out of the library.

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