Period 6:

After 1994: Turning to Transnationalism

The end of the Cold War after the 1980s came to have a greater impact on the historiographical consciousness among Japanese people, because "as the anti-communist and authoritarian systems in Asian nations under the Cold War structure had decreased their importance for the Far Eastern strategy of the United States, the tendency of the democratization had advanced in those countries. The voices of people who pursued the Japanese war responsibility, which had been frozen because of the Cold War for a long time, had come to light."80) There appeared mainly three issues of compensation for the damage to people in Asia by the prewar Japanese military, such as the "military comfort women," the "soldier assistants," and the "Laborer (Romusha)." Reacting to these movements, the Ministry of Education came to take a more objective standpoint when they give official approval to the textbooks in the 1990s.

   In 1993, the Ministry of Education announced "Outline of the Censoring Opinions" against the "descriptions concerning the military comfort women." It included the following four sentences:

1) It is necessary to consider the number of the military comfort women taking account of the situation of present research.

2) Neither the military comfort women nor the girl volunteering corps are distinguished. It is necessary to separate the expressions to avoid causing misunderstanding.

3) It is necessary to describe the origins of the military comfort women accurately.

4) It is necessary to be clear about the forms of recruitment of the military comfort women so as not to cause misunderstanding.81)

   Here, the nature of the force abductions was not denied any longer, and the rhetoric about "lawful" mobilization because "Korean" were "Japanese" disappeared. Though there was a tendency that documents other than official documents by Japanese Government were not admitted as "materials with reliability," the Ministry of Education came to admit the outline of the historical fact. In addition, the Ministry of Education began to give the censoring opinions that were opposite to the ones in the 1960-70s:

[Original text] (Photograph) Instruction concerning the recruitment of the military comfort women of the Japanese military/ Young women in Korea were mobilized as the military comfort women by Japanese Government and the military. It was said that they were 50,000 or 200,000 people.

[Censoring opinion] 1) It is necessary to consider the number of the military comfort women taking account of the situation of present research. 2) The term "mobilization" of the military comfort women might be misunderstood as the mobilization by the National Mobilization Order.

[Sample book] (Photograph) Instruction concerning the recruitment of the military comfort women of the Japanese military/ Many young women were sent to the front as the military comfort women by Japanese Government and the military.82)

   It can be pointed out that a big change took place here, when we compare especially the second censoring opinion with the one given in 1980; "Korean people were not brought forcibly to Japan, because the National Mobilization Order was applied to them." The Ministry of Education cannot deny the forcibility of the bringing in the 1990s, because they must admit that the National Mobilization Order was not applied to the former comfort women. It is not an exaggeration to say that this change represented a conversion of the government policy. This change was, too, brought by the "reflexive monitoring" by nation-states, and by the activities of the new generation who had acquired a democratic view of the world from the 1980s. After the mid-1980s, the Nanking massacre, the assimilationist policy, and the forcible bringing were handled as self-evident facts in history textbooks in Japan.

Of course, each of such monitoring had its own interests based on each standpoint. But by the collision of such interests, a tendency to make more general information about history arose. This movement can be thought to have same kind of basic characteristics as those of the "tendency to grope for the post-national identity in place of the national identity with separated and exclusive nature,"83) which we can find in European Union where the united textbook History of Europe84) for all middle schools in Europe was invented through the long-term management of the International Textbook Improvement. Especially in the 1994 version of the Yamakawa's World History, the realization of less nationalistic consciousness was remarkable, which was different from the "nationally" defined historiographical consciousness of the former periods.

History of the relation between Japan and Korea from the Meiji Restoration to 1945

(260) In Yitsi Choson [Korea governed by the Yi family] subordinate to Qing after the 17th century, political instability had continued because of conflicts between parties, and social anxiety had arisen in rural areas because of the increase in the number of starving people due to a long spell of disasters etc. The War of Hong Kyongrae (1811-12), which occurred at the beginning of the 19th century, was a typical peasant rebellion under the leadership of discontented elements among the declining bureaucrats. In the 1860s, America and European countries urged Korea, which had kept closing the country, to open the door to the world. However, Taewonkun (1820-98), a regent of Kojong Ritaewang (reign 1863-1907), refused this, and made efforts to expel foreigners. Japan approached Korea taking the opportunity of the Kanghwa Island Incident(1) in 1875, concluded the unequal Japan-Korea Amity Treaty (the Kanghwa Treaty) in 1876. The treaty included the consular jurisdiction etc. Also, Japan forced Korea to open three ports including Pusan. To oppose this, Qing, which took the standpoint of the suzerain of Korea, tried to strengthen management of Korea. At that time, Kim Okkyun (1851-94) and others in the progressive faction were in conflict with Minssi and others in the conservative faction, domestic conflicts such as the Military Riot of Imo (1882)(2) and the Political Change of Kabsin (1884)(3) etc. got violent, and conflicts between Japan and Qing intensified, too. Therefore, Japan and Qing concluded the Tienchin Treaty in 1885, in order to promise withdrawal of both armies and provision of advance notice when they send troops in the future, etc. However, once the Kapo Farmers War (the Tonghaktang Rebellion) broke out in 1894 under the leadership of Chon Bongjun (1854-95) and others, both Japan and Qing sent troops which led to the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). The war ended in the victory of Japan, and the Shimonoseki Treaty was concluded in 1895. Because of the Treaty, Qing admitted the independence of Korea, cession of Liao Dong Peninsula, Taiwan, and Peng Hu Islands to Japan, payment of compensation, and privileges to Japan in trades, establishment of enterprises at open ports, and so on. As a result, Japan built a foothold for aggression on the continent in Korea, and deepened conflicts with Russia which aimed at going south in the Far East.

(1) The incident in which the Japanese warship maneuvering off the coast of Korea collided with Korean forces in the vicinity of Kanghwa Island.
(2) Revolt of army which happened in Hansong (present Seoul). The event in which the army of the Taewonkun's faction murdered a lot of important persons of the Minssi's faction, burnt the Japanese legation, and killed Japanese. Qing sent a large army, helped Minssi, caught Taewonkun, and reinforced the right of leadership.
(3) Political change caused by the progressive faction in Hansong. Although the progressive faction beat the conservative faction with the support of the military power of Japan, they were defeated after three days by the advance of the military of Qing.

(275) During and after the Russo-Japanese War, Japan had reinforced their interference against Korea by making the three Japan-Korea agreement (1904, 05, 07). Especially in the second agreement, Japan decided to put the supervisor(1) permanently in Seoul, which presented the Japanese Government, and made the person to supervise the diplomacy of Korea. By the third agreement, Japan came to interfere in the domestic administration of Korea, and disarmed the Korean military. Although people in Korea developed ardent anti-Japan struggles of the loyal soldiers against such Japanese interference in various places, Japan suppressed them by its military power. Japan made this country a territory in Japan by annexing it in 1910 (the annexation of Korea). Japan ruled Korea through the Korean government-general.

(1) Hirofumi Ito (1841-1909), the first supervisor of Korea, promoted the annexation of Korea, and was assassinated by An Jungkun (1879-1910) in Harbin in 1909.


[Photograph] Anti-Japan struggles of the loyal soldiers in Korea. People who had voluntarily stood up at the crisis of the nation were called Euibyong [the loyal soldiers] in Korea. The struggles of the loyal soldiers claiming the anti-Japanese feeling were repeated from the end of the 19th century to the 20th century.

(297-298) After being annexed by Japan, Korea was put by the Korean government-general under a severe observation and control by the military police. Strong measures were taken, including the dissolution of political groups and the control of meetings and speeches. Therefore, Korean people started resisting. On March 1, 1919, the demonstration demanding the independence happened in Seoul under the influence of the Russian Revolution or Woodrow Wilson's declaration of the Fourteen Points of Peace, and extended to the whole land at once. Although the government-general mobilized the military and repressed the movement,(1) this 3.1 Movement (the Mansae Incident) became the starting point of the Korean nationalist movements thereafter.
   Afterwards, Japan loosened its political rule to some degree, and took the policy called "cultural politics" by which assimilation was promoted. But economic rule of Japan over Korea had become stronger.

(1) This was a suppressing action for one year. It is said that there were several thousand dead and nearly 50,000 arrested among Korean people.


[Photograph] 3.1 Movement. This movement extended to the whole land, and was repeated until May. However, this movement was suppressed by the Japanese military and police, and a large number of people were killed and injured. This photograph shows the girl students demonstrating in Seoul.

(315) Japan captured Hong Kong and Singapore for the first half a year of the war. Java, Sumatra, the Philippines, and the Solomon Islands were occupied, and Myanmar was conquered. Japan advocated the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere," and established the pro-Japanese regimes in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Myanmar under the occupation. Indo-China and Thailand, etc. were forced to declare cooperation with Japan, too. The powers of the military became more powerful in Japan after starting the war, and the control of speech and report became stricter.(1)

(1) The rule of Japan in Korea had become still stronger before and after the Japan-China war, and the assimilationist policies such as "Soshi-kaimei" to convert Korean names into Japanese names were promoted. The forcible bringing of the workers in Korea, in order to supplement the manpower shortage of Japan under the war, and the conscription system were applied to Korea at the last years of the war.

   The tendency to make information more detailed and more increased was promoted further after the 1990s. For instance, "Hong Kyongrae" which was judged to be "unnecessary" at the authorization in 1977 came to be explained in detail. And internal circumstances in Korea got described more in relation with the expansion of the Japanese power, by increase of the descriptions on "Taewonkun" and "Minssi." Three of each "Japan-Korea Agreement" came to be explained, and therefore, the process that Japan annexed Korea was clarified. Moreover, the number of victims during the 3.1 movement was shown in the 1994 version. In addition, the facts of "Soshi-kaimei" and "forcible bringing" were described. They were the matters which received the following censoring opinions before:

[Original text] (On aggression to Korea, the annexation of Korea) "Korean people were deprived of land..." "They lost their land..."

[Censoring opinion] This contradicts the fact. The situation depended on the result of the land investigation at that time.85)

   This kind of censoring opinions cannot be given in the 1990s. So, the textbooks of the 1994 version became relatively free from the pressure of the authorization, and acquired the feature of explaining fully about the history of the relation between Japan and Korea. That is, less nationalistic "historiographical consciousness" came to be taken into textbooks gradually in Japan. The same kind of generalization was shown in other historical matters. For instance, the Nanking massacre:

From the Japan-China War to the Lu Gou Qiao Incident

(317) ...Because Japan undervalued such a situation, and the military aimed at the rule of the northern part of China, its aggression had been expanded taking the opportunity of the Lu Gou Qiao Incident in July, 1937. Therefore, the second cooperation of the Kuomintang and the communist army was formally approved in September, and both Japan and China began the full-scale war (the Japan-China War).(1) Though Japan occupied the important places in the northern part of China and the Nanking area by the end of 1937,(2) the unity of the Chinese side kept stiffly, moving their government from Nanking to Wu Han and to Chungking to continue resistance. Though Japan occupied Wu Han and Kuangchou in October, 1938, only important cities and the traffic lines which had connected with the cities were secured, and its rule did not extend to wide rural areas. The pro-Japanese regime of Wang Zhao-Ming (1883-1944), which Japan had established in 1940 in order to oppose to the Chungking Government, did not have much ruling power.

(1) At that time, the Japanese Government called this war the "Shina Incident."
(2) In occupying Nanking, the Japanese military slaughtered a lot of Chinese, and invited criticism from the world (the Nanking Massacre).


[Photograph] Occupation of Nanking by the Japanese military (December, 1937).

(321) Though Japan thought that they could solve the Japan-China War in a short time, the Republic of China did not stop resisting, and the Japanese military was annoyed by the guerrilla war especially with a skillful Chinese communist military. The battlefield extended to a wide region in China, and enormous military expenditure and troops had pressed the economy of Japan strongly.
1994 (310) The Japanese military had expanded its aggression taking the opportunity of the Lu Gou Qiao Incident in July, 1937, aiming at invasion to the northern part of China. On the other hand, the second cooperation of the Kuomintang and the communist army was approved in September in China, and both Japan and China began the full-scale war (the Japan-China War). Japan occupied the important places in the northern part of China and Nanking by the end of 1937. Especially in occupying Nanking, they slaughtered a lot of Chinese and invited criticism from the world (the Nanking Massacre). The Chinese side kept undertaking support from Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union, moving their government from Nanking to Wu Han and to Chungking to continue resistance. Though Japan occupied Wu Han and Kuangchou in October, 1938, only important cities and the traffic lines which had connected with cities were secured, and its rule did not extend to wide rural areas. Japan hoisted the construction of the East Asian New Order in 1940, opposed the Chungking Government, and built the pro-Japanese regime of Wang Zhao-Ming (1883-1944) in Nanking. However, Japan could not receive wide support, and there was no knowing how the situation of the war would develop at all.
(314) The speculation of short-term solution of the Japan-China War did not come true because of the resistance of the Republic of China, and the Japanese military was afflicted especially by the guerrilla war of the military of the Chinese Communist Party (Ba Lu Jun Army). The necessity of enormous amount of military expenditure and troops had pressed the economy of Japan strongly.

   In the 1983 version, the term the "Japan-China [Chugoku] War" was used instead of the "Japan-Shina Incident." This version explained that what happened between Japan and China after 1937 was not a mere "incident" but a "war."

   Additionally, it is meaningful from the sociological viewpoint that the Yamakawa Publishing published the "Nanking Massacre" in its textbooks after the 1983 version, because the textbooks from Yamakawa had not considered the "Nanking Massacre" to be important until then. This was another result of the "Aggression-Advancement" debate in 1982. Also, accounts of the "Nanking Massacre" were moved from the footnotes into the main text in the 1994 version. Referring to the "assimilationist policy into Japanese" or the "Nanking Massacre" in detail was an appearance of the generalization of the historical narrative.

   This tendency to generalize texts was shown in the change of descriptions about Japan, too. For instance, about the atomic bombs: 

Comments on the photograph of the atomic bombs
1951 (No photographs)
1957 (284) [Photograph] Explosion of the atomic bomb (Nagasaki).
1964a (310) [Photograph] Dropping of the atomic bomb (Hiroshima). The flash in the sky of Hiroshima in August 6, 1945 ended tens of thousands of lives instantly, and decided the defeat of Japan in fact.
1973 (321) [Photograph] The atomic bomb dropped to Hiroshima. Taken 20 minutes after the explosion, 10 kilometers east from the Hiroshima City (offered by the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Material Pavilion).
1983d (324) [Photograph] Disastrous scene of the explosive center in Hiroshima. During the five years from immediately after the atomic bombing to 1950, more than 200,000 citizens in Hiroshima and about 140,000 citizens or more in Nagasaki died. A lot of people are still afflicted due to the aftereffects of the atomic bomb now. Several hundred thousands of citizens became the sacrifices by the air raids on other cities.
1994 (317) [Photograph] The vicinity of the explosive center of Hiroshima. After the war, the slaughter of civilians with an atomic bomb became a big humanitarian issue internationally with the evil of the radioactivity which remained afterwards. The photograph: the Industrial Encouragement Pavilion of the Hiroshima Prefecture (the Atomic Bomb Dome) seen from the Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce and Industry. (Photograph was taken by the U.S. military in November, 1945)

   It was impossible for textbook producers to publish historical evaluations of the atomic bombs under the Cold War structure, because the Ministry of Education forced them to delete information of the atomic bombs from the textbooks so that Japanese Government avoided conflicts with the U.S. government. Information about the damages from the atomic bombs appeared in the textbooks after the 1980s, and came to be explained in detail in the 1994 version which was published after the end of the Cold War. This is one of cases of the tendency to make information more accurate.

   As we have seen before, Carol Gluck expressed her image of postwar Japanese nationalism as follows: "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."86)

However, we now are sure to understand some corrections are necessary for this image of the postwar Japan, because this study has revealed the transformation of Japanese nationalism after the 1980s and its influence on the history textbooks. Although the revival of the official nationalism (nationalism from above) in the postwar days changed the characteristics of the history education immediately after the defeat, the globalization of Japanese society at the end of the 20th century has been eroding the official nationalism since the 1980s.