Comparative Perspectives on East Asia
Edited By Unsuk Han, Takahiro Kondo, Biao Yang and Falk Pingel
Ritsu Ijuin: Japan’s World History Education and the Significance of Sadao Nishijima’s Theory of the East Asian World
Ritsu Ijuin Japan’s World History Education and the Significance of Sadao Nishijima’s Theory of the East Asian World1 This article presents an overview of the importance that was attached to East Asian history in schoolbooks in a crucial period from around the time of the Sino-Japanese War, through both the world wars and up to the wide acceptance of the subject in the 1970s. It is based on research by Sadao Nishijima (1909- 1999), an eminent scholar of ancient Chinese history. East Asian History Education in Early Meiji and the Compilation of Japan’s Own Textbooks on the Subject Roughly speaking, the development of the study of East Asian History in mod- ern Japan evolved in a somewhat unusual way, starting with middle school edu- cation and later introduced at university when chairs were denominated to it. The history of foreign countries in early Meiji was taught as bankoku-shi (uni- versal history). It was not based on original studies of the history of foreign countries, but introduced contents and teaching methods of the West to Japan. Also history textbooks of the West were used in classrooms. At that time, the study of ‘universal history’ essentially meant the study of European and Ameri- can history while East Asian history was excluded. History textbooks used in Japan at the time, for example Guizot’s General History of Civilization in Europe (the 1870 English edition was used at the time)2 and Swinton’s Outline of the World’s History: Ancient, Medieval and Modern (Japanese translation 1886-1887)...
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