The Era of Postwar Democracy, Defeat to 1956
In the main part of this study, I analyze the transformation of contents of history textbooks in postwar Japan by paying attention to each boundaries of the epochs shown in the previous section. I will also discuss the influence of the systems surrounding textbooks and the censoring opinions by the Ministry of Education as reflections of the rise and fall of the ethnocentric nationalism. The major periods of this study and the distinguishing traits of each period are:
1) 1945-1956, the era of postwar democracy,
2) 1957-1963, revision of nationalism,
3) 1964-1972, reconstruction of nationalism,
4) 1973-1982, the peak of postwar Japanese nationalism,
5) 1983-1993, dissolution of nationalism and development of internationalism,
6) after 1994, turning to transnationalism.
The immediate postwar period was the era of postwar democracy. In postwar Japan, new educational systems were established under the leadership of the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers (GHQ), which governed administrative authority of Japan from the defeat in August in 1945 until April in 1952. American theories of education such as John Dewey's pragmatism came into Japan. The aims of educational administration in this period were, for example, to abolish extreme nationalism or patriotism, to decentralize the educational systems which were too centralized in the prewar era, and to give each school or teacher more freedom to choose their educational materials.36） This was what was called "postwar democratic education."
The Law of School Education, established in 1947, abolished the national adoption system of textbooks, under which all textbooks for primary- and secondary-education were written and published by the government and every student used same textbooks all over The Great Japan Empire until 1945. After the establishment of the new law of education, textbooks were produced not by the government or the Ministry of Education, but by private publishers under the censorship by the Ministry of Education. However, until the new school textbooks appeared, the Ministry of Education continued to publish some textbooks for the postwar Japanese education. Among them, for example, there is a textbook entitled Tales of the New Constitution,37） a guide to the newly enacted constitution for elementary and junior high school students. In the textbook, the Ministry of Education explained the definition of democracy as follows:
The first fundamental idea of this constitution is democracy.... Suppose if you would meet with many people and do something with them together. By whose opinion would you decide matters? If all of your opinions were same, there would be no problem. If you were divided in opinions on certain matter, what should you do? Do you decide the matter by one person's opinion? Do you decide the matter by two persons' opinions? Or would you decide the matter by many person's opinions? Which is the best?... The most correct way would be deciding by the opinion of the majority, after fully discussing everyone's own opinions first. Then the rest of people follow the opinion of the majority gently. This is the best way. This way of deciding matters by the opinion of the majority is the way of democracy.... Ruling a country is the same thing as this. It is not good to rule by the opinion of a few people. The best way is ruling a country by the opinion of the whole nation. In other words, a country should be ruled by all people; this is the way of ruling with democracy.38）
The textbook for high school students, entitled Democracy,39）
presented the same kind of interpretation
of democracy in more
detail. The Ministry of Education propagandized
ideas of democracy to Japanese pupils and
students in this period,
under the leadership of the GHQ. As we can
see from the passage
quoted above, this idea was at the opposite
extreme from prewar
political thought, which had emphasized the
of the state.
Yamakawa's textbook of World History published in 1951 was affected by this kind of democracy and pacifism too. In this textbook, all victorious countries of World War II were called democratic countries which justifiably "fought for the defense of democracy of their own countries." The defeated nations were described by such expressions as "the evil of totalitarianism," and "brutal militarism." The war responsibility of the army was denounced in many descriptions in this textbook. The basic characteristic of Japanese textbooks immediately after the war was their anti-nationalistic principle, which was equal to an ideology of the victorious countries. The following instance shows the case. (In the following extracts of textbooks, the numbers in parentheses show the page number of the textbook and italics show the emphases by the author of this paper).
|Totalitarianism and democracy|
|1951||(296-297) The reason why totalitarian countries primarily started to aggress was to obtain raw materials and markets. Therefore, their war potential reached its limit quickly. On the contrary, democratic countries had the justification that they fought for the defense of their own countries and democracy. American capitalism with huge natural resources and Soviet socialism being developed by several Five-Year-Plans had the economic ability and national potential power which were not to be expected in brutal militarism.|
|1952b||(294) Soon the war potential of totalitarian countries reached its limit. On the contrary, democratic countries stuck together more and more for the defense of their own countries and democracy. The United States having huge natural resources and the Soviet Union being developed by several Five-Year-Plans soon displayed the economic ability and national potential power which were far beyond those of militarist countries.|
|1958||(324) Soon the war potential of totalitarian countries reached its limit. The United States having huge natural resources and the Soviet Union being developed by several Five-Year-Plans soon displayed the economic ability and national potential power which were far beyond those of militarist countries.|
|1964a||(309) Soon their war potentials reached their limits. Democratic countries, especially the United States and the Soviet Union, displayed the economic ability and national potential power, and launched a counterattack from around mid-1942.|
What we should pay attention to here is that the word "aggress" was used in this period. Later in the 1970s, censors forced a change to "advance." We can also note that the victorious countries were lumped together as "democratic countries." At this point, the U. S. and the Soviet Union were equally called "democratic countries." The fact that the victory of "democratic countries" was accompanied with "justification" shows the influence of the ideology of the victorious countries. This "justification" was banished after the 1958 version, for reasons taken up in the next section of this study.
|Social conditions inside Japan before the Fifteen-year-war|
(290-291) In Japan after 1926 there was a
financial panic, followed by the world
panic in three years. Under their influence,
the economic world was confused, and
movements developed. In this social
political parties under the control
combines seldom considered lives of
public, they were concerned only about
interests of financial combines. Therefore,
they lost people's confidence, and
of the military, suddenly taking advantage
of this, became conspicuous.
(291) The military had insisted on a active foreign policy for a long time. Dispatching troops to Siberia was one of its expressions. Also, because the military had had strong desire to get especially Manchuria, they supported Zhang Zuo-Ling, the head of a feudal military clique in Manchuria, through the Kanto Army and conducted a relatively smooth advance into Manchuria in the 1910s. However, in 1920 Zhang launched out into politics in Beijing and joined hands with the Kuomintang, so that the thought of anti-imperialism and recovery of national power, which had been insisted by the Kuomintang, spread to Manchuria too. So after 1922, an anti-Japanese movement increased also in Manchuria. This movement blocked Japanese advance into the continent, and also it threatened vested interests of Japan. The assassination of Zhang Zuo-Ling by the Kanto Army reflected such conditions of affairs. At this time the military in capital approved the action of the Kanto Army, and opposed punishment of its responsible persons. The Tanaka cabinet at that time could not control the military and resigned in a body. Because of this incident, the military gained in its confidence to stand up to political parties. Moreover, it made the government oppress liberalism and socialism in the country, and tried to realize a military dictatorship, anti party politics, and rejection of financial combines behind political parties, by conducting active foreign policies. In the period of the next Hamaguchi cabinet, the military opposed to the reduction of war expenditure and ratification of the London Navy Treaty. Because they were prepared to use violence for the achievement of their own purpose, Prime Minister Hamaguchi was assassinated by a person who opposed disarmament, and the Japanese government lost its power to control the military.
(292) Although criticism against the action of the military increased inside Japan, the military oppressed them, both directly and by using right-wing organizations. Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai, who gave an anti-military speech, was killed by a soldier on the 15th of May in 1932 (the 5. 15 Incident). In this way, the military finally got to control Japanese government.
|1957||(278) In Japan after 1927 there was a financial panic, followed by the world financial panic in three years. Under their influence, the economic world was confused, and labor movements developed. In this social unrest, political parties seldom considered the lives of the general public, and they continued competition for political power pointlessly. Therefore, they lost people's confidence, and the power of the military, suddenly taking advantage of this, became conspicuous.|
The textbooks published
immediately after the defeat under the rule of the GHQ included
many descriptions which emphasized the military's being out of
control. They told that this was one of the reasons for the surrender
of totalitarianism against democracy. These sentences accused
the responsibility of the military severely. Just as all war responsibility
was laid on the Nazis in postwar Germany, the same kind of logic
dictated that all war responsibility should be laid on the military
in Japan in this period, rather than on the nation as a whole.
If postwar nationalism had not arisen in later years in Japan,
this kind of evaluation on the prewar military might have become
fixed among Japanese people as national consensus. As we will
see in a later section in this study, the Japanese people accepted
the national feeling of war responsibility in the 1980s, in order
to overcome postwar ethnocentric nationalism. Defeated nations,
German and Japan, were put in the Cold War structure under the
different conditions, which are reflected in the evaluations of
In the above mentioned so-called "postwar democratic period," the environment of educational textbooks was affected by American educationists with their liberal and democratic way of thinking. However, the Korean war occurred in 1950, the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty were signed in September 1951, and the GHQ was dissolved by the San Francisco Treaty in April 1952. After that, the effect of political re-nationalizing movements on education became remarkable in Japan. The rebirth of the nationalism began to be expressed in textbooks.
The first of the movements was the campaign of the "deplorable textbook issue" carried on by the Democratic Party from 1953. The Democratic Party included the "standardization of government designated textbooks" in their party platform. In November, 1955, the Democratic Party formed the third Hatoyama Cabinet by combining with the Liberal Party, and strong conservative government by the newly born Liberal Democratic Party was approved (the so-called "1955 System"). Then, the Liberal Democratic Party started national control of textbooks for required subjects. Yasuhiro Nakasone, who was the organization director of the bureau at that time and would later become Prime Minister in the 1980s, led this movement. Thus, the idea of the democracy which had been explained in Tales of the New Constitution was abandoned by the government party. Pressures for national control of Japanese education mounted after the approval of the "1955 System". It can be said that this movement was supported by popular nationalism "from below," in which people wanted their nation to be an independent country.
Also, in June, 1953, the participation of the Japan Teachers' Union in the production of textbooks for social studies was discussed in the Diet. The Japan Teachers' Union was criticized because it was assumed that some of the theories of scholars of the lecturer group at the Education Research Meeting were anti-national. The education policy immediately after the defeat based on democracy and pacifism came to be criticized as "slanted education." Conservative people who supported the 1955 System started to denounce the educational policy immediately after the defeat because it was ideologically biased by leftist thought. The background for this change was the conversion of the policy of the U.S. government toward Japan and the Red Purge under the establishment of the Cold War structure between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. "By following the mutual agreement of the Ikeda-Robertson Conference, the Ministry of Education first reinforced the suppression of a peaceful education, in order to advance a more militarist education. From 1953 to 54, peaceful education was called 'slanted (red)' education. Trying to teach 'nation's truth and real independence' was assumed as 'anti-American and pro-Soviet' thought. Such examples were cited as 'slanted' education."40） Therefore, the Soviet Union was not called a democratic nation any more in history textbooks after this.
In addition, the Ministry of Education replaced the committee of the Textbook Authorization Council in 1955. The execution of the authorization along "national policy lines" for newborn Japan was reinforced. Under this situation, the textbook entitled History of Japan of the Sanseido Publishing written by Saburo Ienaga, professor of history at Tokyo University of Education, was rejected. In the rejection notice, there was the following objections:
This manuscript of Japanese History textbook for high school education which was submitted for authorization on November 29, 1956, has the traits in its composition, descriptions, and expressions, etc. However, the following defects are observed in this manuscript, when we consider this would be a textbook for high school education.... Because the author's zeal to try to arouse reflection on past historical facts is excessively strong, this manuscript seems to go away from the aim of Japanese History education that the efforts of the ancestors are recognized, Japanese consciousness is improved, and abundant love for the race is brought up through the study activities. The above-mentioned reason being considered, this manuscript is hardly judged suitable as a Japanese History textbook for high school education.41）
We can here perceive a policy obviously
different from the former one in the age
of "democracy in the postwar days."
About ten years after the defeat, postwar
Japanese nationalism as the official ideology
began to revive. The campaign to control
textbooks by the ruling political party led
to nationalist treatments of the Textbook
Authorization Council. The textbooks inspected
under this policy would appear at educational
sites after 1957.