The Threat of Revisionism to Japanese History Textbooks: State Intervention and Citizen Resistance

Lecture by Professor Nobuyoshi Takashima (University of the Ryukyus).

Centre for the Study of Historical Consciousness – Visiting Scholars Program
With the support of the Centre for Japanese Research, the Department of History, and the Department of Language and Literacy Education

Lecture will take place in Japanese accompanied by interpretation.


ABSTRACT: Over the past two decades, Japan’s junior high school history textbooks have been highly politicized. Conservative scholars, politicians, and journalists have attempted to justify Imperial Japan’s military aggression in Asia, culminating in the publication of two junior high school history textbooks written from a revisionist perspective. However, many teachers and scholars have resisted this movement by describing historical facts accurately in other textbooks. Working collaboratively with schoolteachers from 1975 onward, I carried out fieldwork collecting documents and testimonies on the atrocities committed by the Japanese the Japanese Imperial Army in Southeast Asia. Current and retired teachers have also edited an alternative textbook to be implemented from 2016. This talk will examine the political backdrop of revisionism and ongoing resistance efforts.

Nobuyoshi Takashima is Professor Emeritus of the University of the Ryukyus in Japan. He has worked as a high school social studies teacher, a teacher educator, and an author of history textbooks. In the 1970s, he began conducting research on the Imperial Japanese Army’s atrocities committed in Southeast Asia. He has also investigated Japanese civilians¹ sufferings during the Battle of Okinawa and the politics of history textbooks in Japan. Since 1983, he has organized an annual study tour for Japanese teachers to learn about Imperial Japan¹s invasion of Southeast Asia. His numerous publications include: Hachijûnen dai no kyôkasho mondai [Textbook Controversies in the 1980s] (1984); Tabi shiyô tônan ajia e [An Invitation to Southeast Asia Travel] (1987); and Ryokô gaido ni nai ajia o aruku: Marêshia [Off the Beaten Track in Asia: Malaysia] (2010).