Tempest in a Textbook: A Report on the New Middle-School History Textbook in Japan
How does a middle-school history textbook go about promoting nationalistic pride in adolescent Japanese? Trying to reconcile this goal with the sorry examples of Japan's military exploits before and during World War II has created considerable domestic and international concern, not to mention highly emotional protests. This report presents some of the provocative contents, strategies of presentation, and political repercussions of the "new history textbook," approved by Japan's Ministry of Education and Science in 2001 for use in public and private middle schools nationwide. Sponsored and authored by the Japan Society for History Textbook Reform (Atarashii Rekishi Kyōkasho o Tsukuru Kai), the textbook's problematic rendition of history has produced an uproar over the government's screening and approval process, renewed concern about an upsurge of nationalistic activity in Japan, and adversely affected Japan's relations with China and South Korea.