Reflexive Historiography in Postwar Japan's World History Textbooks
[Journal of Educational Research for
Human Coexistence 3, pp. 1-13, 2008/10]
1. Objectives of the Study
In school textbooks, history is usually conveyed as "truth."
The information provided concerns "matters that have already occurred,"
and is elaborately systematized beforehand to enable us to understand streams
of serial events. As a result, individuals consider history as an external
and complete concept in and of itself.
However, when we look at a textbook used in a period different from
our own school days, we can see that what was considered "truth"
in those days is substantially different from what we recognize as true.
Since a textbook itself is a social product, the information it contains
and the way history is narrated are always influenced by the political
and social context in which the texts are written.
This paper aims to report the alteration of data in history textbooks
in Japan during the latter half of the 20th century. The content and narration
concerning Japan's past in those textbooks will be considered, and the
impact of the social forces of the times will be studied. The main objective
of this study is to analyze the historical transformation of the contents
of history education in terms of postwar Japanese nationalism, by dealing
with history textbooks as one of the expressions of "nationally defined
2. Background and Goal of the Study
Before starting this study, we would like to refer to the opinion of
Benedict Anderson (1991: 113-140) who recognizes the nation as an "imagined
community." According to Anderson, the group of human beings called
a "nation" is not a long-standing phenomenon in the history of
humankind but one newly established by modern cultural apparatuses. Before
the modern age, people were separated too far geographically to recognize
others as being members of the same group. They could not grasp the idea
that they belonged to the same nation until modern information media, such
as newspapers and other publications, became available to them. This idea
was further purported by the uniformity and hierarchy of the modern educational
system, which provided the national basis for people's understanding of
history. Standard textbooks and other educational materials led people
to mutual conclusions about the type of information they should recognize
as "history," and how this information should be systematized.
Strict regulations were established with regard to the curricula for various
age groups, which made the latitude and pace of historical study more uniform
in nature. In this way, it became possible for individuals to distinguish
the history of their nation from those of other nations, and to imagine
that the borders and sovereignty of their own countries existed since ancient
times. The "nation," in Anderson's view, materializes because
of interaction among individuals. Therefore, we can say that the study
of history in modern education has its foundation in a national history
that conveys the logic of national unification.
However, the "nation" itself is an outgrowth of modern technology,
and is usually influenced by its relation to the environment. As Anderson
(1991: 42-43) pointed out, "What made the new communities imaginable
was a half fortuitous, but explosive, interaction between a system of production
and productive relations (capitalism), a technology of communications (print),
and the fatality of human linguistic diversity"; therefore, we can
assume that there will be further changes in our concept of "nation"
when, for example, there are significant changes in communication technology.
The content analysis of this study examines the transformation of history
textbooks in Japan on the basis of this sociological perspective on nationalism,
and its final goal is to show the holistic image of "nationally defined
historiographical consciousness" in Japan in the second half of the
3. Methods and Data Sources
This study adopts the method of time-series analysis of a long-lived
textbook, which was used in Frances FitzGerald's work on U.S. history textbooks.
As FitzGerald (1979: 27) 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." 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.
The main textbooks examined in this study are authorized textbooks for high school education entitled World History published by Yamakawa Publishing. By examining this long-lived text, we
can grasp which historical events have been taught or not taught during
the years 1951 to 2000 in Japanese high school education. The textbook
clearly shows a part of the results of the reflexive monitoring by Japanese
people on the world and on their nation.
There are mainly three reasons why Yamakawa Publishing's World History is chosen for this study. First, this textbook is the most popular history
textbook in Japanese high schools. Yamakawa's World History was adopted by more than fifty percent of Japanese high schools in postwar
years. It had a greater number of readers than any other textbook and can
therefore be considered as a national standard history textbook in Japan.
Second, 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-day 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 popular textbook has been written
by almost the same big-name historians: Kentaro Murakawa, Namio Egami,
Tatsuro Yamamoto, and Kentaro Hayashi. Thus, by using Yamakawa's textbooks,
we can avoid much of the bias caused by changes of authors in the analysis
of transformation 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. There are only a few textbooks in Japan, which
contained the same influential authors in its continual revisions for almost
fifty years. Using Frances FitzGerald's term, this textbook is the best
"Brunswick stew" made by mostly the same cooks.
Further, this study pays special attention to screening opinions on
the manuscripts of textbooks given by the Ministry of Education. In postwar
Japan, when authors or publishers wanted to publish new textbooks or revise
the former edition, they had to submit new manuscripts to the Ministry
of Education. Special assistants in the Ministry of Education would give
them editorial suggestions and screening opinions to rewrite or delete
some descriptions. After this process, the Ministry of Education approved
the new textbooks officially.
We discuss concrete instances of screening opinions by the Ministry
of Education, based mainly on the publications of the Japan Federation
of Publishing Workers' Unions (JFPWU). This organization, in coordination
with the Japan Teachers' Union, had 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 Federation, but these are the best sources to help in
understanding how the screening opinions by the Ministry of Education have
changed over time. We will use these elements as indicators of the independent
variables that have resulted in changes in textbook content.
4. Japanese History Textbooks in the Latter Half of the 20th Century
4-1. From National Society to International Society
The educational administration of Japan in the latter half of the 20th
century started from a review of the policies of postwar disposition by
the General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers, and
moved to re-establishing autonomy in determining the content of school
curricula (Tokutake 1995). Therefore, when it came to the content of history
education, aims were set toward re-establishing narratives relying on the
national society. After the Peace Conference in San Francisco and the establishment
of the 1955 Setup, a screening of textbooks by the Ministry of Education
in 1957 resulted in the announcement that the aim of history education
was "to recognize the efforts of ancestors, enhance self-consciousness
as Japanese and cultivate abundant affection in the nation" (Ienaga
1956/74: preface). Soon after, in the 1960s, it became clear that the goal
was "textbooks that enable [students] to learn precisely about the
autonomous position of the State and its nation" (JFPWU 1964: 16).
Under such administrative guidance, a textbook, for example, revised its
description of "unconditional surrender" to "surrender,"
deleted expressions such as "the arbitrary decision and execution
by the military," and included more explicit statements such as, "Iturup
and Kunashir essentially belong to the territory of Japan." In this
way, by the 1960s, history textbooks came to fulfill the requirements of
conveying the continuity of sovereignty, conformity of the nation, and
legitimacy of the borders (Okamoto 2001: 65-67, 80-89).
Using historical narratives that rely on a principle of nationhood helps
people to recognize themselves as members of a nation distinct from others,
and to admire its development. In textbooks of the 1960s and 1970s, descriptions
of the act of war as "invasion" were revised. In addition, descriptions
of the "tyranny and incompetence" of the Japanese military's
administration office in Southeast Asia was withdrawn. Referring to the
nation's "reckless" rush into the Pacific War was also eliminated.
Instead, texts began to mention that the victory in the Russo-Japanese
War "gave a great influence to Asian countries where the colonization
prevailed, and it played a role to expand the racial sentiment of Asia,"
and that "Japanese soldiers showed the greatest activity" in
the Boxer Rebellion (Okamoto 2001: 99-127). We can say that textbooks of
this period had an effective and consistent framework in terms of protection
and admiration of the nation.
In Japan, however, a situation arose in the latter half of the 20th
century that did not allow the history textbooks to eliminate social surveillance
altogether. A controversy erupted over the legitimacy of the textbook screening
system in 1965. This controversy was launched by lawsuits brought by Saburo
Ienaga, a historian and professor at the Tokyo University of Education.
The manuscript of Ienaga's own textbook was disqualified by screening in
1957 and 1963 and was given only a conditional judgment of acceptance in
1964, on the grounds that it did not meet the views of the Ministry of
Education. In his suits, Ienaga called for the national indemnity and withdrawal
of the administrative decision on the grounds of the unconstitutionality
of textbook screening and the illegality of its decisions (Ienaga 1965).
The so-called "Textbook Trial" of 1965 ignited a controversy
on the vision and content of education in Japan, which raged for 32 years
until the close of the third lawsuit in the Japanese Supreme Court in 1997.
Although Ienaga did not win favorable decisions, the trials themselves
played a socially significant role because the standard of judgment and
internal regulation of the screening process, which had not been public
until that time, was opened to scrutiny.
Furthermore, it became clear that it was necessary to adopt new viewpoints
in historical narrative, as Japan re-established relations with other Asian
countries. Negotiations on compensation with Southeast Asian countries
since the 1950s, and the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and Korea
as well as the Joint Communiqué between Japan and China normalized national
interactions with those countries, respectively. In light of this new viewpoint,
concepts and items became grouped in ways that would be in keeping with
the activity of the Japanese nation that tightened its links with countries
located overseas (Ishida 1995). From the middle of the 1970s through the
beginning of the 1980s, a scheme existed through which the authors and
publishers of textbooks began to present new terminology, but the screening
by the Ministry of Education re-emphasized the need to use a framework
relying on the principle of nationhood. For example, with regard to the
description of "HongKyong-nae" in Korean history and "PhanBoi
Chau" in Vietnamese history, the opinions for improvement in 1977
were presented as "unnecessary" to the former, and that, "It
is better not to put in anything new," to the latter (JFPWU 1979:
23). In addition, on the "Nanking Massacre," they commented in
1980 that, "It reads like the army conducted the massacre in an organized
manner. The time of occurrence and systemicity cannot be concluded"
(Asahi Shimbun 1993: 2). In addition, they instructed that a description
of "Forced Mobilization" be changed, making the comment that:
"We should write about the Korean and Chinese separately. Korea belonged
to Japanese territory at that time, and the National Requisition Ordinance
was applied to them, so it cannot be said that they were forced, in case
of Korea" (JFPWU 1982: 49).
However, these processes became exposed to the eyes of society that
had been aroused by Ienaga's trials, and around 1980, a situation arose
that drew their focus from outside the borders due to media intervention.
In 1982, a Japanese newspaper reported on the requirement by the screening
that textbooks reword "Japan's ‘invasion' of the continent" to
"advancement." When these stories were reported in the Chinese
and Korean media too, textbook screening in Japan became an international
issue. As a result, the Ministry of Education released some of the results
of screening opinions in 1983. Furthermore, in correspondence with it,
the authors of history textbooks began to report examples of the screening
process, in order to publicize the facts about the screening of textbooks.
According to Nobuyoshi Takashima (1994: 98), the situation at that time
is outlined as follows:
Before, the Ministry occasionally overlooked such actions, just in case
Mr. Ienaga were to release information regarding the practice of screening.
However, from that time, the situation changed to forbidding the Ministry
of Education to interfere, even if many authors of social studies textbooks
were to reveal concrete examples of screening, which has continued being
the case until today… Not only for authors and editors, but for ordinary
people, sometimes those in the industrial community or those concerned
about the social problems related to the descriptive content, and people
abroad if the issue was of international interest; all gave their diverse
opinions during the process of screening, which had the effect of checking
4-2. The History Being Elaborated
Before the 1980s, the monistic screening filter used by Japan's Ministry
of Education officially regulated the perspective of history textbooks,
but in the 1980s, that filter became a more pluralistic one. Moreover,
as is frequently pointed out, the period after 1980 is the age in which
internationalization was advocated as the policy and the inflow of foreign
workers grew in large scale. In Japan's case, this new population lacked
political force to commit themselves directly to the publication process
of textbooks, but nevertheless created a beneficial impact as the members
of society began to visually recognize that their society was not conformed
in "a single culture."
Of course, the critics and reviewers who looked at textbooks from both
inside and outside of Japan represented the interest of their respective
principles and culture. But, as a result of the confrontation of the different
assertions, a tendency to elaborate upon the quality and increase the quantity
of the information about certain historical events emerged. Under such
circumstances, it became extremely difficult to officially regulate the
core value of nationhood. The change in descriptions of the relationship
between Korea and Japan serves as a clear example. When Japan tried, as
a modern state, to enter into diplomatic relations with other countries,
it chose to focus its efforts on the Korean Peninsula as the first counterpart,
since it was closest to Japan. Thus, Japan's diplomatic history with Korea
is described just after a discussion of the Meiji Restoration. However,
at some point in the 1950s, the standard textbook description was quite
Since the Meiji Restoration, Japan kept demanding that Korea open up its
country. Considering the risk of subordinating Korea under the rule of
a weakened China against the Southing of Russia, Japan concluded the Chemulpo
Treaty [sic] with Korea in 1876, and forced it to promise its independence
and opening of the port of Pusan. After that, Japan took steps to monopolize
the Korean trade market. Public opinion in China strongly demanded the
recovery of the Korean market and suzerainty, and, as the struggle inside
the royal family of Korea was entwined in that situation, the commercial
power of Japan was finally expelled from Korea. Worried, Japan opened hostilities
against China, taking advantage of the Tong-hak Rebellion. As the Chinese
military revealed weakness against Japan's forces and its more modern equipment,
China ceded the Liaotung Peninsula and Taiwan to Japan under the Treaty
of Shimonoseki and approved the independence of Korea. Soon, Korea became
a Japanese protectorate, then a part of the Japanese Empire, and was ruled
by Japan until 1945. (Murakawa and Egami 1951: 254-255)
This passage is the full extent of the discussion of modern Korea in the textbook World History of 1951. Here, Korea is only accessorily mentioned as part of a description of the relations between Japan and China. The diplomatic history from the Meiji Restoration until 1945 is simply summed in general terms, and no detailed information is given regarding the steps that were taken in Japan's expansion of power into the Korean Peninsula. Hereafter, and until the 1970s edition, the recognition of Korea, a neighbor of Japan, basically stayed in this status.
It was after the 1980s that information on the diplomatic history of
Japan and Korea was more readily available, which is affinitive with the
process in which Japan deepened its relations with Korea. The closer relations
between Japan and Korea became, the more detailed the narratives of their
mutual past. The word "advancement" was included in the information
increasingly given out. Quite naturally, in 1982, Korea protested the use
of the term "advancement." In the consecutive edition of 1983,
the phrase "invasion of the mainland" was adopted. Its description
of the diplomatic history of Japan and Korea is given the headings, "The
Opening of Korea and the Sino-Japanese War" and "The Russo-Japanese
War and Japan's Annexation of Korea." Concerning the Ganghwa Island
Incident, this textbook emphasized the action from Japan, mentioning that,
"Japanese warships performed military drills along the coast of Korea"
(Murakawa et al. 1983: 270). At the "March 1st Movement," the
first photograph of the event was provided, and the information was presented
from a viewpoint different from the conventional one protecting and admiring
the nation. It mentioned, "A crackdown by Japanese military and police
authorities resulted in a large number of Korean dead and wounded"
(Murakawa et al. 1983: 305).
These descriptions were continued all through the 1980s, although some
changes in inscription and expression were added to the 1987 edition. In
the 1989 edition, items such as "Daeweon-gun" and "The Min
Family" and others were added (Murakawa et al. 1989: 266). The description
of the March 1st Movement that resulted in independence was given the heading,
"The March 1st Movement of Korea" (Murakawa et al. 1989: 301),
and the internal events in Korea were explained in greater detail. Information
on the "Korea-Japanese Treaty" and the "Volunteer Movement
against Japan" were added (Murakawa et al. 1989: 281), which provided
a clearer understanding of the development of events.
The increase in information accelerated a great deal in the 1990s, and
the description of the history of Japan-Korea relations became about five
times longer than the edition of the 1950s. The description of the "HongKyong-nae
Rebellion" that had been judged as "unnecessary" in the
screenings of the 1970s was now mentioned. "Daeweon-gun," "The
Min Family," and the internal situation in Korea in the 19th century
were mentioned in correlation with the expansion of Japan's power (Egami
et al. 1994: 260). The "Annexation of Korea by Japan" had been
mentioned in the past primarily only in relation to the Russo-Japanese
War. During this time, however, it became a more independent discussion,
and the separate description of the "Korea-Japanese Treaties"
helped to make the process of Japan's conquest of Korea much clearer. The
excerpt below serves as a fine example. When comparing the description
below with of the single line found in the textbooks of the 1950s: "Soon,
Korea became a Japanese protectorate, then a part of the Japanese Empire,
and was ruled by Japan until 1945," we can see that the elaboration
of information progressed.
During the Russo-Japanese War, Japan concluded the Korea-Japanese Treaty
on three occasions (1904, 05 and 07) and intensified its interference against
Korea. The second treaty gave Japan the opportunity to establish a Resident-General*
who would stay permanently in Seoul to supervise diplomatic activity and
represent the Japanese government. The third treaty gave Japan an opportunity
to interfere in Korea's domestic politics and dissolved the Korean Army.
Against such interference by Japan, the people of Korea developed an intense
voluntary struggle against Japan, but Japan quelled it with armed force,
annexing the country in 1910 (the Annexation of Korea) and governing it
through the Government-general of Korea.
*Hirobumi Itoh, the first Resident-General (1841-1909) who propelled the annexation of Korea, was assassinated by An Jung-gun in Harbin in 1909. (Egami et al. 1994: 275)
Textbooks began to describe the status of Japan's ruling system, focusing
especially on the "Volunteers' Struggle against Japan." Photographs
were inserted that carried the explanation: "In Korea, people who
voluntarily rose up during the crisis were known as Volunteers, and the
struggles by the Volunteers were repeated, calling for an anti-Japan movement"
(Egami et al. 1994: 275). In addition, the "Soshi kaimei" (forcible
imposition of Japanese names on Koreans) was described for the first time,
and there was more information about the status of colonial rule, including
statements such as, "After or around the Sino-Japanese War, Japan
strengthened its rule of Korea and proceeded with assimilation policies
like ‘Soshi kaimei.' In order to deal with a shortage of labor in Japan,
a forced mobilization effort was conducted in Korea, and the conscription
system was also applied at the end of the War" (Egami et al. 1994:
The increase in this sort of information indicates that history education
is moving away from viewpoints expressing the naive protection of the nation's
orthodoxy. Yet, the national history focus itself is maintained here as
well. In the first place, even though the screenings until the early 1980s
specified that, "We should write about the Koreans and Chinese separately"
(JFPWU 1982: 49) as Korea belonged to the territory of Japan from 1910
through 1945, no information was given about the concrete process that
Japan had employed to annex the nation into the territory of Japan. Although
the 1994 edition deals directly with the occupation of Korea and the nationalization
of the country through the "Cultural Policy" and "Soshi
kaimei" by the state of Japan, it is nothing but the detailed expression
of the status of society from the viewpoint based on the framework of national
history. It can be said that information perceived to be both objective
and critical of one's own nation has become more apparent as part of the
phenomena mentioned above. The elaboration of information on the diplomatic
history between Japan and Korea in the 1994 edition is an example of the
fact that the framework of national history is maintained but the values
dealt within it are becoming pluralized.
4-3. Development of the Universal Values
An objective and critical historical narrative is not necessarily made
only on one's own country. This can be better understood when we look at
the description of the relation between Japan and victorious nations of
World War II. For example, concerning the "damage from the atomic
bomb," the 1951 edition only made the brief comment, "On August
6th, [the United States] dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. On August
9th, the American Military again dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki…"
(Murakawa and Egami 1951: 298). In the 1957 edition, a photograph of an
atomic bomb mushroom cloud was inserted for the first time, but the comment
was not changed. More comments were added in the 1964 edition, but no concrete
information on the damage was given until the edition of 1973. However,
the trend of descriptive elaboration since the 1983 edition is illustrated
through the following examples:
On August 6th, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima…
On the 9th, the American Military again dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki…
[Photo] The horrible spectacle of Ground Zero. During the five years after
the attack until 1950, more than two hundred thousand people were killed
in Hiroshima, and over one hundred forty thousand people died in Nagasaki;
even today, many people are suffering from the bomb's after-effects. Hundreds
of thousands of people were victimized as well in the air raids on other
cities. (Murakawa et al. 1983: 324)
The 1983 edition carried concrete information on the number of victims
for the first time and reported the status of damage lasting until today.
Along with this trend, screening opinions such as, "It needs verified
data on the number" (JFPWU 1987: 36), were released many times in
the 1980s, but as a result of repeated verification, the information became
more detailed as shown in the following description from the 1994 edition.
Furthermore, the photograph showing the scene of the A-Bomb Dome and its
surroundings was attached to this description since the 1983 edition. The
picture convinces the readers that the condition of the city was truly
disastrous, and clearly shows that the viewpoint of victims has been adopted.
[Photo] The vicinity of Ground Zero in Hiroshima. The multicide of ordinary people killed by the A-bomb coupled with the post-blast radioactive dangers that remained active after the bombing created a major international humanitarian issue after the war. The photo shows the Center for the Promotion of Prefectural Industry (A-Bomb Dome) taken from the Chamber of Commerce of Hiroshima. (Photographed by U.S. military, November 1945). (Egami et al. 1994: 317)
Details about the relations between Japan and Soviet Russia at the end
of World War II increased during this time period as well. In the 1983
edition, it was indicated that, "After the war, Soviet Russia detained
many Japanese prisoners of war, forced them into labor and caused a large
number of deaths" (Murakawa et al. 1983: 324). In the 1994 edition,
the description was more specific: "After the war, Soviet Russia detained
six hundred thousand Japanese prisoners of war in Siberia and European
Russia for a long time, engaged them in forced labor and caused a large
number of deaths" (Egami et al. 1994: 317).
In these examples, the elaborated descriptions in the editions after
1983 established the trend to describe the harm suffered by Japan in detail,
from the same perspective that describes the damage of Asian nations by
Japan. Using expressions such as the "multicide of ordinary people
by the A-bomb," "a major international humanitarian issue,"
and "engaged them in forced labor and caused a large number of deaths"
indicates that events like "damage by an A-bomb" and "forced
detention in Siberia" have become recognized as the oppression of
humanity itself. Therefore, it can be said that the effect of further elaborating
the data in textbooks not only increases the amount of information presented
that could be critical to some specific human groups but also provides
a viewpoint that helps people to recognize values that apply universally
to people in general.
5. Conclusion: Gradually Pantoscopic Viewpoints, although in the Framework of National History
When we read historical narratives in Japan, which have changed, as
mentioned above, we see that many more people in Japanese society were
tuned into the textbook publication process at the very time when the movement
questioning history education being based on monistic viewpoints overlapped
with the "deterritorialization" of human activities (Scholte
2000: 44-50). It was the interaction of a plurality of people from different
backgrounds making various efforts to communicate their interaction in
broad ways. The publishers were encouraged to deal with historical data
on Japan's relations with Asian countries in keeping with the increase
in exchange of people and goods after the re-establishment of interaction
with the countries in that region. The Ministry of Education controlled
this movement by means of screening, but Ienaga's trial forced them to
open the screening process to public scrutiny. The international solidarity
of the mass media further enhanced the probability of opening the process
to the public.
As a result of these movements, the data provided in history education
was increased and more fully elaborated, and it reflected a change in viewpoint.
It is recognized by Anthony Smith that national unification is accomplished
by transmitting the myths, symbols, values, and memory of the people who
make up the "core" of a nation's society to other people who
end up sharing them (Smith 1986: 157-161). The media certainly played a
role in transmitting and sharing conventional education in history. However,
in the increasingly globalized age dealt with in this paper, the textbook
publication process came within the purview of people beyond the "core"
of society. The historical narratives executed in this changed environment
began to adopt pantoscopic viewpoints that more fully recognize the positions
and experiences of people and the complexity of events. Monistic explanations
that had served to protect and promote admiration of the core members of
national society were relativized, and the information included in textbooks
began to be more fully elaborated in both quantity and quality in order
to point out that the backgrounds of a nation's people were diverse in
the first place.
However, it is also important to keep in mind that the national framework
of narrating history has not been abandoned. In order to realize the cosmopolitanism
advocated by persons like David Held (1995: 221-238), it is necessary to
consider identity as transcending geographic borders, and in order to do
so, we have to prevent history from being territorialized on the grounds
of nationality. On the other hand, history education in Japan has been
nothing but "national history" at all times, and if the concept
that brings the framework relying on the principle of nation to naught
is called "post-national history," history education of Japan
does not belong to that category even at the end of the 20th century.
However, when we observe the transmission of values actually inherent
in the system of "national history," it is obvious that the values
disseminated through the history textbooks of the 1990s are not applied
only to the specific nation-states or human groups involved. When we look
at the elaborated descriptions of, for example, the damage of Asian nations
by Japan, as well as the "multicide of ordinary people by the A-bomb,"
we see basic human values at work. In the textbooks of the 1990s, the universal
dignity of human beings is considered within the framework of national
history. We can say that the most significant feature of the narration
of history in the global age is that textbooks began to seek a narrative
approach through which events could be understood from a position of communality,
different from that of the principle of nationhood, even though they follow
the traditional form of national history education.
Of course, the work in this paper involved a study limited to a particular
long-lived history textbook. Considering that there are a boundless number
of factors that determine the shape of "nations," there is a
logical risk in emphasizing a particular vision on the direction of the
future. However, as discussed, the history textbook is a significant medium
through which members of a nation are led to maintain and continue the
nation. Therefore, we believe that our efforts to prove the change in the
content elaborated in textbooks, and to reason the future direction, based
on the proof, should be appropriate at least to the same extent as this
medium has contributed to the reproduction of the nation. In other words,
when we made a decision about the alteration in the content and narration
in history textbooks of the latter half of the 20th century, we also decided
upon a basis for our assumption about the works as the next challenge for
conducting a complete analysis of the diverse factors that determine what
human groups will be.
This paper is a lecture material for the intensive course of the In-Service
Training Program For Overseas Teachers of the University of Tsukuba in
the academic year 2008. The contents of this paper are based on Okamoto
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