Friday, July 29, 2005

A set of Myths agreed upon

The title is how Napoleon once referred to history. I wonder if he had this in mind. According to this link, the Tokyo school board has adopted a textbook that critics say whitewashes Japanese behavior in wars past. The link also says that the employment of this textbook could upset China and South Korea (the victims of the atrocities). It specifically refers to the 1937 rape of Nanking and the employment of Korean "comfort women" from World War II being downplayed.

The more unfortunate aspects of any nation's history is often given cursory treatment, if at all in their textbooks. I remember reading about World War II in school, but I don't remember reading about the brothels the U.S. Army put in place to keep the soldiers placated. I don't remember hearing about the Kwangju massacre from the Korean War. I never read anything about laws that were passed in several states that banned the Romany (gypsies) simply because they were Romany.

China and Korea might get upset about the textbook. That's their right. They can do that. However, it's not their position to educate the Japanese. If they're most concerned with historical accuracy, they need to address it as such. The problem is, these nations have been squabbling with each other for so long, the Croats were still inviting the Serbs over for beer and darts when it started. Changing a textbook won't fix the underlying hostility, rather would simply be a "coup" for the nations that elicited the change.

I don't condone the inclusion of partial truths in a history book. The best way to learn from the past is to know the past, all of it. This means you have to pull the band-aid off every now and again to look at the scab. That is a decision that the Japanese have to make for themselves, just as it is for every other nation. The people of Japan will still be able to learn of the actions; it will just be from other sources.


Michelle said...

How's the moving going? Did your wife find any post grad courses to suit?

mlwhitt said...

Very interesting posting. Thanks for the information. Always interesting for the history behind history.

Bookworm said...

To the victor belong the spoils but, perhaps more importantly, to the victors belongs history. And while Japan was not exactly the victor in WWII, it's relationship with Korea and China still has a one-up quality that makes its historic revisionism irksome and offensive.