The Japanese New History Textbook controversy

A history textbook underplaying Japanese imperialism caused controversy domestically and internationally, write Ayako Komine and Naoko Hosokawa.

A textbook entitled New History Textbook (Atarashii Rekishi Kyokasho) was published by a committee consisting of conservative scholars in 2000, and was approved as a social science textbook for junior high schools by the ministry of education in 2001. This caused controversy and heated debates both domestically and internationally especially in relation to neighbouring countries, such as China and Korea, affecting Japanese diplomatic relations with them. Official approval of the textbook was seen as controversial, as it underplayed Japan’s war-time aggression during the Sino-Japanese war and the second world war. In practice however, the New History Textbook was adopted by only a few schools in Japan.

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk

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