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Japanese people often fail to understand why neighbouring countries harbour a grudge over events that happened in the s and 40s. The reason, in many cases, is that they barely learned any 20th Century history. I myself only got a full picture when I left Japan and went to school in Australia. From Homo erectus to the present day - more than a million years of history in just one year of lessons.
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Japanese people often fail to understand why neighbouring countries harbour a grudge over events that happened in the s and 40s.
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The reason, in many cases, is that jpaanese barely learned any 20th Century history. I myself only got a full picture when I left Japan and went to school in Australia. From Homo erectus to the present day - more than a million years of history in just one year of lessons. That is how, at the age of 14, I first learned of Japan's relations with the outside world.
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It's hardly surprising that some classes, in some schools, never get there, and are told by teachers to finish the book in their spare time. When I returned recently to my old school, Sacred Heart in Tokyo, teachers told me they often have to start hurrying, near the end of the year, to make sure they have time for World War II. I still remember her telling the class, 17 years ago, about the importance of Japan's war history and making the point that many of today's geopolitical tensions stem from what happened then.
I also remember wondering why we couldn't go straight to that period if it was so important, instead of wasting time on the Pleistocene epoch.
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When we did finally get ho, it turned out only 19 of the book's s dealt with events between and There was one on what is known as the Mukden incident, when Japanese soldiers blew up a railway in Manchuria in China in There was one on other events leading up to the Sino-Japanese war in - including talk to japanese people line, in a footnote, about the massacre that took place when Japanese forces invaded Nanjing - the Nanjing Massacre, or Rape of Nanjing.
There tlk another sentence on the Koreans and the Chinese who were brought to Japan as miners during the war, and one line, again in a footnote, on "comfort women" - a prostitution corps created by the Imperial Army of Japan. I wanted to know more, but was not quite eager enough to delve into the subject in my spare time. As a teenager, I was more interested in fashion and boys. My friends had a chance to choose world history as a subject in Year But by that stage I had left the Japanese schooling Married but looking in tx, and was living in Australia.
I remember the excitement when I noticed that instead of ploughing chronologically through a given period, classes would focus on a handful of crucial events in world history.
So brushing aside my teacher's objection that I would struggle with the high volume of reading and writing in English - a language I could barely converse in - I picked history as one of my subjects for the international baccalaureate. There is controversy over what happened. The Chinese saywere japaese and many women were gang-raped by the Japanese soldiers, but as I spent six months researching all ti of the argument, I learned that some in Japan deny the incident altogether.
Nobukatsu Fujioka is one of them and the author of one of the books that I read japansee part of my research. As a year-old student, I was not trying to make a definitive judgement on what exactly happened, but reading a dozen books on the incident at least allowed me to understand why Fenton girl fucking people in China still feel bitter about Japan's military past.
While school pupils in Japan may read just one line on the massacre, children in China are taught in detail not just about the Rape of Nanjing but numerous other Japanese war crimes, though these s of the war are sometimes criticised for being overly anti-Japanese. The same can be said about South Korea, where the education system places great emphasis on our modern history.
This has resulted in very different perceptions of the same events in countries an japaneae flying time apart.
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Fujioka believes they were paid prostitutes. But Japan's neighbours, such as South Korea and Taiwan, say they were forced to work as sex slaves for the Japanese army.
Without knowing these debates, it is extremely difficult to grasp why recent territorial disputes with China or South Korea cause such an emotional reaction among our neighbours. The sheer hostility shown towards Japan by ordinary people in street demonstrations seems bewildering and even barbaric to many Japanese television viewers.
Equally, Japanese people often find it hard to grasp why politicians' visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine - which honours war criminals among other Japanese soldiers - cause quite so much anger. I asked the children of some friends and colleagues how much history they had picked up during their school years. Twenty-year-old university student Nami Yoshida and her older sister Mai - both undergraduates studying science - say they haven't heard about comfort women.
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Seventeen-year-old Yuki Tsukamoto says the "Mukden incident" and Japan's invasion of the Korean peninsula in the late 16th Century help to explain Japan's unpopularity in the region. Former history teacher and scholar Tamaki Matsuoka holds Japan's education system responsible for a of the country's foreign relations difficulties.
I first saw her work, based on interviews with Japanese soldiers who invaded Japansse, when I visited the museum in the city a few years ago.
Many initially refused to talk, but eventually, they admitted to killing, stealing and raping. When I saw her video interviews of the soldiers, it was not just their admission of war crimes which shocked me, it was their age. Already elderly by the time she interviewed them, many had been barely 20 at the time, and in a strange way, it ttalk them.
I was choked with an extremely complex emotion. Sad to see Japan repeatedly described as evil and dubbed "the devil", and nervous because I wondered how people around me would react if they knew I was Japanese. But there was also the big question why - what drove these young soldiers iapanese kill and rape? She and Fujioka represent two opposing camps in a debate about what should be taught in Japanese schools.
Fujioka and his Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform say most textbooks are "masochistic" and only teach about Japan in negative light. It is just ridiculous," he says. He is widely known for pressuring politicians to remove Hot housewives want nsa San Antonio term "comfort women" from all the junior high school textbooks.
His first textbook, which won government ralk inmade a brief reference to the death of Chinese soldiers and civilians in Nanjing, but he plans to tone it down further in his next book. The Ministry of Education's guidelines for junior high schools state that all children must be taught about Japan's "historical relations with its Asian neighbours and the catastrophic damage caused by the World War II to humanity at jaapanese.
Matsuoka, however, thinks the government deliberately tries not to teach young people the details of Japan's atrocities. Having experienced history education in two countries, the way history is taught in Japan Dating girls from Pompano Beach Florida at least one advantage - students come away jpanese a comprehensive understanding of when events happened, in what order.
In many ways, my schoolfriends and I were lucky.
Because junior high students were all but guaranteed a place in the senior high school, not many had to go through what's often described japanse the "examination war". For students who are competing to get into a good senior high school or university, the race is extremely tough and requires memorisation of hundreds of historical dates, on top of all the other subjects that have to be studied.
They have no time to dwell on a few s of war atrocities, even if they read them in their textbooks. All this has resulted in Japan's Asian neighbours - especially China and South Korea - accusing the country of glossing over its war atrocities. He, like Fujioka, wants to change how history is taught in Japan so that children can be proud of our past, and is considering revising Japan's apology over the comfort women issue.
If and when that happens, it will undoubtedly cause a huge stir with our Asian neighbours. And yet, many Japanese will have no clue why it is halk a big deal.
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You can follow the Magazine on Twitter and on Facebook. For three hours a week - hours over the year - we edged towards the 20th Century.
There was also just one sentence on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My first ever essay in English was on the Rape of Nanjing.
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One of the most contentious topics there is the comfort women. But he too is unaware of the plight of the comfort women.
When Matsuoka published her book, she received many threats from nationalist groups. But is ignorance the solution?
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