Objectives and Significance
People study history from textbooks in school, believing that the history is the "truth." However, the "truth," or the contents of textbooks, is always changing, and is affected by the changes in society as a whole. Therefore, it can be a subject matter for sociology to analyze the transformation of the contents of history textbooks.
This study is a content analysis of history textbooks used in Japanese high schools in the postwar era. This study has two main objectives. One is to review the changes in contents of high school history textbooks in postwar Japan. The other is to analyze the transformation of history education in terms of the rise and fall of postwar Japanese nationalism. For the second major objective, I will focus on two phases: 1) the effects of postwar ethnocentric Japanese nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s on history textbooks, and 2) the new movement of history education toward "transnationalism" after the mid-1980s.
One of the contributions of this study is its extensive examination of primary materials. Many researchers in previous studies have neglected to examine the concrete contents of textbooks actually used in Japanese education. Moreover, this study is also of theoretical significance in connection with the concept of transformation of nationalism. Dealing with the contents of history textbooks as one of the expressions of nationally defined "historiographical consciousness,"1） it examines how postwar Japanese nationalism has changed by describing the historical transformation of the contents of history textbooks. Although a large number of studies have been conducted on this theme, most of them have used very limited primary materials and do not extend past the mid-1980s.2） Only Hyun Sook Kim has recently studied some Japanese history textbooks used in the 1990s,3） but she has not examined how Japanese history textbooks were transformed in the 1990s. This study has analyzed a number of history textbooks as primary sources to show the actual changes in contents of specific historical texts over times, and to explain their reasons.
It is especially important to explore the recent change of textbooks after the 1980s,4） because Japanese society has been rapidly internationalized after the 1980s, and because such social changes affected the contents of textbooks in ways which researchers have not yet studied. By these examinations, this study shows the total image of the "nationally defined historiographical consciousness" in Japan in the second half of the 20th century.
In an effort to achieve the intended objectives, this study will consider the change in the environment of a nation-state as the key to explaining the change in the contents of history education in the nation-state. I assume that the change in the environment for Japan as one community could have an impact on Japanese nationalism, and could further cause the change of the contents of history education. In this study, internationalization of the postwar Japanese society is supposed to be the major independent variable,5） and the transformation of history textbooks is used as a dependent variable.
Background of the Study
As Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger have pointed out, many devices to create national identity among people have been invented6） in many nation-states since the 19th century. The national history education in modern Japan after the Meiji Restoration (1868) can be judged as one of the devices. Through the national history education, people who were living in far eastern islands had become "Japanese people" and embraced Japan as a modern nation-state. This phenomenon of modernization is common to all modern states. The development of common historical consciousness among all people within a state is one of the necessary conditions for the formation of a modern nation-state. According to Benedict Anderson, "uniform textbooks, standardized diplomas and teaching certificates, a strictly regulated gradation of age-groups, classes and instructional materials"7） were promoted by the modern state to create a self-contained, coherent universe of experience. Moreover, "pilgrimages" inside the modern school system had special functions. Anderson remarks:
From all over the vast colony, but from nowhere outside it, the tender pilgrims made their inward, upward way, meeting fellow-pilgrims from different, perhaps once hostile, villages in primary school; from different ethnolinguistic groups in middle-school; and from every part of the realm in the tertiary institutions of the capital. And they knew that from wherever they had come they still had read the same books and done the same sums.... To put it another way, their common experience, and the amiably competitive comradeship of the classroom, gave the maps of the colony which they studied a territorially specific imagined reality which was every day confirmed by the accents and physiognomies of their classmates.8）
Such concepts as "their common
experience" and "imagined reality"
are important in this context, because they
are nothing else but the national feelings
of a newly born nation-state. And the nationally
defined "historiographical consciousness"9） is one of these feelings which have been
formed among people through formal education.
It is the consciousness to divide time and
space. For example, in early modern Japan,
the consciousness had arisen which mixed
"Aino history" and "Ryukyuan
history" with "Japanese history,"
but which distinguished "Korean history"
and "Chinese history" from it.
The formation of such consciousness reified
invisible borderlines between modern nation-states
as if they were visible. "National history"
was brought into the consciousness of the
people, not merely special and national ceremonies,
"but also through reading-rooms and
classrooms."10） Every modern nation-state
has experienced these phenomena.
Anderson's argument regarding the modern nation-state is sociologically important, because he reconstructs the "nation," which is usually felt to be external and constraining by individuals, in terms of the process by which members imagine it, and deals with it as a imagined construction shared by members through their interactions.11） Continuation of the nation-state as a total society requires that all people inside the nation share the same national identity.
Like Anderson, Max Weber once stated that "one of the important aspects of the existence of a modern state, precisely as a complex of social interaction of individual persons, consists in the fact that the action of various individuals is oriented to the belief that it exists or should exist, thus that its acts and laws are valid in the legal sense."12） He pointed out that the belief in every collective existence in people's daily thinking would reify the real social existence of the collectives. Therefore, "a 'state,' ceases to exist in a sociologically relevant sense whenever there is no longer a probability that certain kinds of meaningfully oriented social action will take place.... It is impossible to find any other clear meaning for the statement that, for instance, a given 'state' exists or has ceased to exist."13） According to Weber, when all people have a common national identity and behave with their subjective orientation concerning the existence of their nation, a society in the form of the modern nation-state can be formed.14）
Anderson divides such a belief into two stages in terms of its characteristics. The first is the "popular linguistic-nationalism," which arose from the dissolution of cultural systems such as religious communities and dynastic realms. Such cultural systems existed before nation-state systems were transformed into modern nation-states by the start of print capitalism15） and establishing movements of national languages.16） People came to conceptualize nations as communities with boundaries and sovereignties, and to recognize the world to be the total of such parts. This stage of nationalism wells up in people "from below," and People often want to make their communities independent with this stage of nationalism. This kind of nationalism is the "thought to esteem the nation-state system itself."
The second stage is the "official nationalism," where power groups, who could avoid to be ejected by the common people, start to manage and lead the popular nationalism.17） Here the following widely known definition of nationalism by Ernest Gellner becomes valid:
Nationalism is a theory of political legitimacy, which requires that ethnic boundaries should not cut across political ones, and, in particular, that ethnic boundaries within a given state ... should not separate the power-holders from the rest.18）
In other words,
this is the nationalism "from above"
to make people
have a higher regard for the nation to which
they belong than
any other nations in this stage. People also
might be influenced
by power-holders in this stage of nationalism
to have some kind
of hostility against other nations. According
to Anderson, national
history education is one of the devices in
to make this kind of nationalism possible.
consciousness is defined nationally through
the modern school
system, people start to distinguish "their
history from "other's," and to
believe that the boundary
and sovereignty of their nation have continued
to exist from the
earliest times.19） One nation is reified
unconsciously as a result of interactions
of members in the nation.
Therefore, the "official nationalism"
can be defined
as the "thought to distinguish the home
country from other
countries and to esteem one's own country
The content analysis of this study examines the transformation of history textbooks in Japan on the basis of this sociological perspective on nationalism. Especially, this study is concerned with this second phase in postwar era. The defeat in 1945, the rise of the "official nationalism" in the mid-1950s and its fall in the mid-1980s, and the spread of liberal education after the 1980s provide the stage for this study.
The effort to develop common national consciousness have been embedded in the Japanese educational system for a long time. After the family of the Emperor of Japan moved to Tokyo from Kyoto in the first year of Meiji (1868) and became "Japanese," "Japanese history" started to be narrated nationally by looking back to more than two thousand years ago when the first ancestors of the Emperor were believed to establish the first Japanese imperial court in the western part of Japan. This narrative was officialized by the promulgation of the Educational System in 1873. In other words, this was an "invention of tradition" in modern Japan.20）
This historiographical consciousness was one key to the formation of the modern Japan, and soon became the target of control by power-holders. This process of officialization of modern historiographical consciousness in Japan has been analyzed by many studies of social history using contents of education.21） Tomitaro Karasawa and others pointed out that history textbooks were the most efficient media for spreading the official nationalism among Japanese people in prewar Japan, especially after the beginning of the adoption of the state-designated textbooks in 1904, and that the people who developed loyalty to the Emperor and love of country through history education in turn came to support the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.22） Scholars inside as well outside Japan seem to reach a consensus on this view concerning prewar Japan.
However, there are few studies of Japanese history education in the postwar era, and their conclusions do not reach any consensus on postwar Japan. For example, Shiro Baba, a sociologist of education and one of the founders of the Japan Society for the Study of Educational Sociology, once conducted a curricular analysis on history textbooks in 1963.23） In his study, Baba divided modern history education into four periods, and compared the contents of history textbooks in every period:
1) 1872-1885, period of the first Educational System,
2) 1886-1903, period of the screening of textbooks,
3) 1904-1945, period of the government-designated textbooks for elementary school,
4) 1946-1960, period of postwar educational system.
Baba defined nationalism as the "idea or the movement in which people recognize their own nation as separated existence from others, and intend to unify, establish, and develop their own nation."24） This definition is similar to the definition of the official nationalism in this study. Baba picked up some historical items such as "Emperor" or the "Japanese military," and interpreted the contents of textbooks as follows: for example, regarding the mention of the Emperor himself, if a textbook expresses him as "Living God," it can be judged as favorable to nationalism; if the expression of the "Emperor" is used, the textbook can be judged as neutral to nationalism; and if the expression the "Emperor as human being" is used, the textbook can be judged as negative to nationalism. From this analysis, Baba found that prewar Japanese nationalism had been almost the same from Period 1 to Period 3, while postwar Japanese nationalism in Period 4 was totally different from the earlier periods. Pointing out that history textbooks in the postwar era mentioned people's benefits more and national tradition less, Baba concluded that the postwar years seemed to be a period of disruption of Japanese nationalism.
This was a pioneering study concerning the history education in postwar Japan, although its content analysis had a limited focus. Also, Baba's study lumped from 1946 to 1960 together and failed to pay attention to the change "inside" the postwar period. As my study shows later, the postwar days as a period of disruption of Japanese nationalism finished substantially in 1956, and history textbooks after that had changed. Baba's work missed this change.
Since Baba's study, other scholars have extended Baba's work to examine more recent periods. Many have found evidence of continued nationalist patterns. For example, Sanjun Kan pointed out the transformation of postwar Japanese nationalism expressed in school textbooks after 1970.25） He stated that even in postwar Japanese textbooks the "thought of 'a hundred million servants' worshipping the Emperor and the lack of awareness of war responsibility against Asian countries during World War II have existed as before."26） Analyzing Japanese high school history textbooks, Kan concluded that the "We" feeling, which strengthened ethnocentrism, had been surely existing in postwar Japan.
Kan's article, however, had the shortcoming that he examined only textbooks which had been approved around 1980. Moreover, the focus of his examination was limited to the "image of Korea" in Japanese textbooks. Thus, his study cannot be understood as an entire analysis of the nationalism of postwar Japan.
Other scholars and writers outside Japan have presented opinions similar to Kan's. Many American scholars have already pointed out the existence of ethnocentric history education in postwar Japan, as the following excerpts show:
By the 1980s they felt that the brightness of the original sengo [postwar] was now in full eclipse, the initial promise of the postwar betrayed by the bureaucratic state and conservative middle-mass society. They remained in opposition to the intrusions and revisions of the prewar past, but their place in the sun --and the television forum-- was increasingly taken by conservative intellectuals who supported rather than opposed the postwar status quo.27）
Even though nobody openly supports a militarist revival, many Japanese nationalists feel the need to defend traditional Japanese culture against uncritical emulation of the West.28）
Soothing perception of history still finds its way into Japanese history textbooks, which have either ignored the massacre at Nanking altogether or put a decidedly Japanese spin on the actions of the military. At the far end of the political spectrum, Japanese ultranationalists have threatened everything from lawsuits to death, even assassination, to silence opponents who suggest that these textbooks are not telling the next generation the real story.29）
However, most of their works do not
include primary materials or data on history
education in Japan. And even if their reasoning
is basically true, their arguments about
postwar Japan are limited to the 1970s and,
at most, the early 1980s, leaving the impression
that same situations are continuing even
in the 1990s. They do not take account of
the transformation of textbooks after the
1980s, when the drastic internationalization
of Japanese society began to affect textbooks.
The final aim of my study is to show the total image of "nationally defined historiographical consciousness" in Japan in the second half of the 20th century. In order to achieve this aim, this study proposes to take up the textbooks with the greatest number of readers, and to include textbooks published after the 1980s. The shortcomings of the previous studies set two assignments for this study. One is to show the actual changes in contents of textbooks in postwar Japan as thoroughly as possible from the time-series viewpoint, verifying and modifying the opinions of previous studies. The other is to explain the reasons for the transformation. This study explains these reasons in terms of the rise and fall of postwar ethnocentric nationalism, as well as many aspects of the social situations in Japan which had effects on changes in the contents of textbooks, such as the change of the trend of arguments in social sciences, the court cases on the textbook screening system, and the monitoring of the Japanese educational administration by other Asian nations.
Thus, this study poses the following research questions: 1) what were the differences in the characteristics and background of postwar Japanese nationalism expressed in history textbooks immediately after the defeat and after the 1960s?; 2) how have the situations of Japan after the mid-1980s changed Japanese school textbooks?
Methods and Data Sources
I adopt the method of time-series analysis of a long-lived textbook, which was used in Frances FitzGerald's work on U.S. history textbooks.30） This is because, as FitzGerald said, "if you look through the various editions of the very long-lived texts, you will see the book changing like a Brunswick stew or a customized stock car. After thirty years or so, the latest edition will show very little trace of the original."31） She also explained how social changes in the U.S. affected the contents of textbooks. This seems to be the best way to show the transformation of textbooks and to understand the reasons of the change.32）
Moreover, I refer to the various instruments of textbook analyses that have been developed and used in Grant and Sleeter's studies.33） They show several different ways of content analyses of textbook in detail. Their six analyses are: picture analysis, anthology analysis, "people to study" analysis, language analysis, story-line analysis, and a miscellaneous category. Although their concerns are race, class, gender, and disability, their ways of content analyses, especially the "language analysis" and the "story-line analysis" inform me which and how descriptions should be analyzed. Grant and Sleeter explain:
The language analysis involves examining language in the text for sexist usage, "loaded" words that contain racial or sex stereotypes, and words or phrases that obscure viewpoints or possible conflict situation. The story-line analysis is used primarily with social studies texts. It involves analyzing which group receives the most sustained attention (whose story is being told), which group(s) resolves problems, how other groups appear, the extent to which these other groups cause or resolve problems, and who the author intends the reader to sympathize with or learn most about.34）
Converting their concerns to the one
of my own, nationalism in Japan, I follow
these two ways of analyzing the texts. Because
other four methods are to analyze the texts
in fragments, they are not appropriate for
this study to examine the transformation
of one textbook chronologically.
The main textbooks examined in this study are authorized textbooks for high school education entitled World History published by Yamakawa Publishing. I have collected forty-seven editions of this textbook. By examining this long-lived text, I can grasp which historical events have been taught and or not taught for 50 years in Japanese high school education. The textbook shows clearly a part of the results of the reflexive monitoring by Japanese people on the world and on their nation.
There are four reasons why I use Yamakawa Publishing's World History for this study. First, this textbook have the largest share of history textbooks among Japanese high schools. As of 1998, there are 18 world history textbooks for high schools in Japan. Yamakawa's World History has been adopted by almost 70 percent of Japanese high schools in the postwar days. This means almost 70 percent of Japanese people have studied history using this textbook. It has greater numbers of readers than any other textbook. Therefore, this textbook can be considered as the national standard history textbook in Japan.
Second, some people may wonder why I use textbooks of World History, not Japanese History for this study. This is because after the sixth revision of the Study Guidelines by the Ministry of Education in 1989, "World History" became a required subject for all high school students, while "Japanese History" became an elective course. In other words, in present Japan, students have more opportunity to learn the nationally defined "historiographical consciousness" through World History education, than through Japanese History education.
Third, throughout its existence, this textbook has been written by the almost same big-name historians: Kentaro Murakawa, Namio Egami, Tatsuro Yamamoto, and Kentaro Hayashi. Thus, by using Yamakawa's textbooks, I can avoid much of the bias caused by change of authors in the analysis of transformation of contents of the textbooks. There have been some changes: the first version published in 1951 was written only by Murakawa and Egami, and recent versions after 1994 were written by Egami, Yamamoto, Hayashi, and Osamu Naruse, instead of Murakawa, who had died. But there are no other textbooks in Japan which almost the same authors have continued to revise for almost fifty years. Using Frances FitzGerald's term, this textbook is the best "Brunswick stew" by same cooks.
Fourth, I use textbooks for high school education, not for primary- and middle-school education. In Japan, pupils study basic knowledge in all subjects by the end of junior high school. In high school, they study the same kind of knowledge in more detail. Therefore, in history education for high schools, students can receive more subtle knowledge with which they can make more detailed images of the world and their nation. From above mentioned reasons, Yamakawa's World History is the best choice for this study.
Table 1 shows the forty-seven versions of World History I have collected.
[Table 1.] List of Textbooks to be Analyzed
|Code #||Pub. Year||Title||Date of Official Approval|
|1952a||Mar. 1952||World History, revised||Jul. 23. 1951|
|1952b||June 1952||World History, 2nd ed.||Sample for 1953|
|1953a||1953||World History, 2nd ed.|
|1953b||June 1953||World History, 3rd ed.||Sample for 1954|
|1954||June 1954||World History, 4th ed.||Jul. 30. 1952; Sample for 1955|
|1955||June 1955||World History, 5th ed.||Jul. 30. 1952; Sample for 1956|
|1957||Apr. 1957||World History, revised||Apr. 30. 1956|
|1958||May 1958||Detailed World History|
|1960a||Mar. 1960||World History, 6th ed.||Apr. 30. 1956|
|1960b||Mar. 1960||World History, 2nd ed.||Apr. 30. 1956; Apr. 30. 1958|
|1960c||Mar. 1960||Detailed World History||Apr. 30. 1958|
|1962a||Mar. 1962||World History, 6th ed.||Apr. 30. 1956|
|1962b||Mar. 1962||World History, 2nd ed.||Apr. 30. 1956; Apr. 30. 1958|
|1962c||Mar. 1962||Detailed World History||Apr. 30. 1958|
|1964a||Mar. 1964||World History, new ed.||Apr. 20. 1963|
|1964b||Mar. 1964||Detailed World History||Apr. 20. 1963|
|1967a||Mar. 1967||World History, new ed.||Apr. 20. 1963|
|1967b||Mar. 1967||World History, new ed., 2nd ed.||Apr. 20. 1963; Apr. 11. 1966|
|1967c||Mar. 1967||Detailed World History||Apr. 20. 1963|
|1967d||Mar. 1967||Detailed World History, revised||Apr. 20. 1963; Apr. 11. 1966|
|1970a||Mar. 1970||World History, new ed., 2nd ed.||Apr. 20. 1963; Apr. 10. 1969|
|1970b||Mar. 1970||Detailed World History, 2nd ed.||Apr. 20. 1963; Apr. 10. 1969|
|1971||Mar. 1971||World History, new ed., 2nd ed.||Apr. 20. 1963; Apr. 10. 1969|
|1973||Mar. 1973||Detailed World History, new ed.||Apr. 10. 1972|
|1974||Mar. 1974||Detailed World History, 2nd ed.||Apr. 20. 1963; Apr. 10. 1969|
|1975||Mar. 1975||Detailed World History, new ed.||Apr. 10. 1972|
|1976||1976?||Detailed World History, revised||Sample for 1977|
|1977a||Mar. 1977||Detailed World History, new ed.||Apr. 10. 1972|
|1977b||Mar. 1977||Detailed World History, revised||Apr. 10. 1972; Apr. 10. 1976|
|1980a||Mar. 1980||Detailed World History, 2nd ed.||Apr. 10. 1972; Mar. 31. 1979|
|1980b||Mar. 1980||Detailed World History, 2nd ed.||Apr. 10. 1972; Mar. 31. 1979|
|1982||Mar. 1982||World History, new ed.||Mar. 31. 1981|
|1983a||Mar. 1983||World History, new ed.||Mar. 31. 1981|
|1983b||Mar. 1983||Detailed World History, new ed.||Mar. 31. 1982|
|1983c||1983?||Detailed World History, new ed.||Sample for 1984|
|1983d||1983?||Detailed World History, revised||Sample for 1984|
|1984||1984?||World History, revised||Sample for 1985|
|1985||Mar. 1985||World History, revised||Mar. 31. 1981; Mar. 31. 1984|
|1987||Mar. 1987||Detailed World History, revised||Mar. 31. 1982; Mar. 31. 1984|
|1989||Mar. 1989||Detailed World History, 2nd ed.||Mar. 31. 1987|
|1992||Mar. 1992||Detailed World History, 3rd ed.||Mar. 31. 1987; Mar. 31. 1991|
|1994||Mar. 1994||Detailed World History||Feb. 28. 1993|
|1995||Mar. 1995||Detailed World History||Feb. 28. 1993|
|1996||Mar. 1996||Detailed World History||Feb. 28. 1993|
|1997||Mar. 1997||Detailed World History||Feb. 28. 1993|
|1998||Mar. 1998||Detailed World History, revised||Mar. 31. 1997|
I chose 237 historical events related to modern Japan, such as the arrival
of Matthew Calbraith Perry at Uraga, the Sino-Japanese War, the treaty
of the annexation of Korea, the Tripartite Pact, Atomic Bombs, the Potsdam
Conference, and so on (see Appendix A for a list of the events).35） I counted the numbers of the changes of the descriptions on the 237 historical
items by comparing each text with the one directly before, because I need
to know the transformation as thoroughly as possible. For example, I compared
"1952a" with "1951," and "1952b" with "1952a."
After 1957, the text branched off to World History ("1957") and Detailed World History ("1958"). After that, I dealt with these two texts separately. Therefore, I compared "1960a" with "1957," and "1960c" with "1958." Also, I obtained only few editions of World History after the 1971 version, because Detailed World History became the main publication among Yamakawa's textbooks after this time
and very few editions of World History continued in print. Thus, I could nothing to do but compare "1982"
I used the following criteria to count the changes of description: (A) addition of explanation; (B) addition of new historical events not included in the former edition; (C) deletion of historical events included in the former edition; (D) changes of expressions and change of narrative (e.g., rephrase of "China" to "Shina," which has different political and ideological meanings, as will be seen later); (E) changes of transcription (e.g., shift from Kanji [Chinese ideograms used in Japanese writing] to Hiragana [Japanese cursive syllables]; addition or deletion of punctuation marks, etc.). This category does not include "deletion of explanation." Whenever an explanation of an historical event is deleted, the historical event itself is deleted. So it is counted as (C).
By counting the numbers of changes of contents in a series of Yamakawa's World History from the above stated viewpoints, Table 2. can be described.
[Table 2.] Numbers of Changes of Contents
Table 2 tells us that drastic revisions occurred in 1957, 1964, 1973,
1983, and 1994. Although the 1982 version of World History also has many changes in content, this version had to be compared with
the 1971 version for the already mentioned reason, and thus reflects the
cumulative changes for over ten years. So, this version is less a drastic
revision than the sum of many incremental changes. Therefore, it can be
said that the versions of 1957, 1964, 1973, 1983, and 1994 mark the significant
revisions in the contents of history education in postwar Japan.
In the following sections, I intend to analyze the concrete changes of description in textbooks, paying full attention to these five major revisions. I will concentrate particularly on the descriptions about history of the relations between Japan and China, and between Japan and Korea, because these relations were most important to modern Japan as a nation-state.
Importantly, this study pays special attention to censoring opinions on the manuscripts of textbooks given by the Ministry of Education. In Japan, when authors or publishers want to publish new textbooks or revise the former edition, they have to submit new manuscripts to the Ministry of Education. Then Special Assistants in the Ministry of Education give them editorial suggestions and censoring opinions to rewrite or delete some descriptions. After repeating this process several times, the Ministry of Education gives official approval to the new textbooks. The new textbooks are released as "sample books," which are offered of each board of education to decide which ones to adopt.
I will discuss concrete instances of censoring opinions by the Ministry of Education, based upon the publications of The Japan Allied Labor Union of Publishers. This organization, in coordination of The Japan Teacher' Union, has been against the textbook screening system controlled by the Ministry of Education. Of course, it cannot be said that these publications are politically neutral because of the ideological standpoint of the Labor Union of Publishers, but these are the best sources to help understanding how the censoring opinions by the Ministry of Education have changed over time. With these materials, I can show the transformation of the political and social circumstances under which Japanese history textbooks have changed. I will use these elements as indicators of the independent variables which have resulted in changes in textbook content.