Monday, April 02, 2007

Airbrushing History

I found this article on Yoshiaki Yoshimi that might be of interest. It goes into more detail of who he is and how he became involved in the comfort women issue. In regards to the issue over the lack of official documents, he says, "The fact is, if you can't use anything except official documents, history itself is impossible to elucidate." According to Yoshimi and other historians, the emphasis on official documents is part of the government's strategy to control wartime history.

There was another article that was critical on China's policy of "airbrushing" its own history, saying that it was no different from Japan. "Young Chinese tend to know next to nothing about their country's own conquests, or even about atrocities committed in living memory by their own government. What they are taught is what Japan's nationalists seek to teach: their own essential goodness."

So in the end, is Japan and China no different in how they are trying to portray/shape its past history? Including Korea, these three countries, like any other country, have an agenda in how they want their national history portrayed and what should be emphasized. As we saw last week, Korea has its own problems with an education system that teaches hatred towards the Japanese (I'm generalizing here). And I'm sure there are other issues that are being airbrushed or contained by the Korean government. So how can "historical correctness" be done when everyones version of the truth is different and the government has a stake in portraying a certain type of history?

4 comments:

Grace said...

Adding on to my own blog, the Ministry of Education in Japan has recently ordered publishers to delete acknowledgement in high schools textbooks of the army's role in causing mass suicide in Okinawa during WWII. If you're interested, check out the following article:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/01/news/japan.php?page=1

ashigaru said...

BACKGROUND OF 'COMFORT WOMEN' ISSUE / Kono's statement on 'comfort women' created misunderstanding

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070402dy01.htm

diana said...

This article on "national history" indeed makes a pertinent point. The books of the Modern Chinese History I studied when I was in high school only stress the history of humiliation and Qing Dynasty's corruption.

Erin Robinson said...

I'm a little torn on this issue, not because I disagree that both China and Japan, as well as Korea, whitewash their own histories to create a nice, pat, nationalist history (Korea's example we can find last week, with the vilification of collaborators and their eviction from the Korean "nation"). However, in French's article, he states that the children are being taught their own essential goodness. I'm not sure what else you want to teach children. I agree it's necessary to give children a more accurate view of history, but you also don't want them to believe that they're inherently bad people because their ancestors did things that were wrong. That doesn't seem the way to go either. There must be a balance somemplace, but I'm not sure any nation has found it.