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History Education and Reconciliation

Comparative Perspectives on East Asia

Edited By Unsuk Han, Takahiro Kondo, Biao Yang and Falk Pingel

The legacy of crimes committed during the Second World War in East Asia is still a stumbling block for reconciliation and trustful cultural relations between South Korea, China and Japan. The presentation of this issue in history school books is in the focus of a heated public and academic debate. This book written by historians and pedagogues from the three countries offers insight into the construction of historical narratives that are often nation-centered and foster exclusive identity patterns. However, the essays also reveal approaches to a more inclusive regional concept of East Asian history that puts the textbook debate into the wider framework of transitional justice.


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Yang, Biao: China in Japan’s History Teaching


Yang, Biao China in Japan’s History Teaching How is China portrayed in Japan’s middle school history teaching? As important sources of knowledge, Japan’s history textbooks not only reflect the mainstream view of how history and the world is seen by the Japanese, but also determine how they will view their own history and that of others in the future. When talking about co-existence or integration with another people, the opinions of one’s own people often go unheard or are reserved. This is not unique to Japan or China, but is rather a common problem among East Asian people. East Asians are often careful with voicing their opinions openly about others. Instead they try to guess the opinions of others. Perhaps this is a feature of Confucian cultural sphere. I First, we need to examine how the teaching syllabus issued by the Japanese gov- ernment determines the goals and content of history teaching. Japan’s educa- tional system is basically centralized. All textbooks adhere strictly to the sylla- bus and can only be adopted after being examined by the government. Although there are many publishing houses in Japan with various versions of textbooks, including both left-wing and right-wing versions, none may transgress the basic values and content outlined in the teaching syllabus. The teaching syllabuses of Japan’s primary and middle schools are revised nearly every ten years. The cur- rent history syllabus for middle schools was issued in 1998 and implemented in 2002. The content of middle school history teaching centers around...

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