AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 54

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Session 54: History Education in East Asia: Textbooks, Teaching Materials and New Departures

Organizer and Chair: Edward J. Shultz, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

Discussant: Sung Min Woo, Northeast Asian History Foundation, South Korea

This panel investigates current developments in the teaching of history in East Asia. The past decade has seen great strides as scholars from Korean, China, and Japan have met to look at issues of common importance and seek through discussion and study to present a united interpretation. Too often, yet understandably so, East Asia has been studied from a narrow one-nation perspective. Many of the issues and successes that East Asia has confronted are larger than one state. The presentations that follow provide a variety of perspectives. Prof. Seo investigates four recent collaborations between East Asian scholars considering issues they confronted and the products they ultimately produced. Prof. Chang present a major curricular change in Korea as a new proposal emerges to teach in public schools a history of East Asia, hoping that such a course will lead students to acquire a more open approach, not only to their own past but that of their neighbors. Prof. Lim provides a focused excursion into the recent past and looks at the impact of the northern people or races on the established kingdoms of China, Korea, and Japan. It is his contention that the interaction between these so call “barbarian” people and the “southern states” was an important dynamic of East Asia. Prof. Brown in another focused study examines how Chinese textbooks have presented Japanese war-time atrocities in China. By successful dealing with the thorny issues of the past, scholars of East Asia are seeking to bring an understanding and compassion that will enable a greater partnership among its people

The Reaction to the release of joint history textbooks and the status of their usage
Hyun-Ju Seo, Northeast Asian History Foundation, South Korea

A series of Korea-Japan or Korea-China-Japan joint supplementary history textbooks compiled by educators, private citizens, and researchers of the respective countries have been published since 2005. Joseon Tongsinsa [Korean envoys to Japan](April 2005) was the very first to be released. The book, jointly compiled by educators in Daegu Korea and Hiroshima Japan, discusses the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592-1598) and Joseon Tongsinsa within the larger framework of war and peace. A month later, History to Open the Future was published simultaneously in Korea, China, and Japan. The work, which features modern and contemporary East Asian history, is the product of a compilation committee composed of Korean, Chinese, and Japanese educators and scholars. In August 2006, the Korean history teachers and Japanese history educators released the Face-to-Face History of Korea and Japan. The work presents the history of Korea-Japan relations and the society and culture of each country from the prehistoric period to the "port-opening period." Lastly, The History of Korean-Japanese Interactions, a comprehensive history of Korea-Japan relations from the prehistoric period to the present, was published on March 2007. The book is the result collaboration among the history researchers and educators in Korea and Japan. This presentation will examine the reaction to the release of the four works in each respective country and the status of their usage in schools. The presentation aims to bring to light the significance of the development of such joint textbooks in East Asia where conflicts over divergent perceptions of history are deep-rooted and intense.

East Asian History Education Curriculum of Korea - With the Focus on What is Taught at High Schools
Seyun Chang, Northeast Asian History Foundation, South Korea

Recently, conflicts have loomed large between Korea and China, Korea and Japan, and China and Japan over the past history or territorial issues. Needless to say, it is necessary to carry out diversified discourses and studies to find ways of settling such conflicts and confrontation between the countries. It has been proposed that East Asian History be taught to students in the region in place of the national history of each country as a means of bridging the gap in their perspectives of history. The 8th School Education Curricula of Korea will adopt East Asian History as an optional subject, the first attempt to do so by any of the three Northeast Asian countries. Two Korean publishers are compiling textbooks as materials for the teaching of East Asian history. If they are successfully authorized by the Ministry of Education, they will be used in schools from 2012. Thus, it is necessary to develop diverse materials for East Asian History education and discuss desirable methods of carrying out classes. If the subject of East Asian History is successfully taught, it can also contribute to the formation of a body for regional cooperation through the shared goal of regional peace and co-prosperity by helping the people of each country to acquire a more open perspective concerning the neighboring countries. Amicable agreement should be reached between the countries through discussion of such problems as the concept and geographical scope of East Asia, the historical perspectives held by each country, and the selection of effective teaching and research materials about the region. The subject of East Asian History aims to help students recognize the characteristics and issues of the region correctly by understanding the process of the formation of the regional history in a self-reliant and open-minded way. The objectives have been set to help students build their ability to think from diverse historical perspectives, using relevant materials, with the aim of encouraging them to develop the kind of mindset and attitudes that will enable them to contribute to peace and the development of the region of the future.

Memories of the Anti-Japanese War and the Formation of Chinese Attitudes toward Japan
George P. Brown, Independent Scholar, USA

Opinion surveys conducted over the past decade demonstrate that popular attitudes in China toward Japan are still profoundly shaped by historical memories of the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s and 1940s. These attitudes are grounded in perceptions that historical issues such as the Nanjing Massacre and the Unit 731 biological warfare experiments that were conducted in China by the Japanese Imperial Army are still unresolved. It is often observed that Chinese people are angry about what they see as a widespread failure at both official and popular levels in Japan to acknowledge and apologize for these atrocities. Some western and Japanese observers in turn argue that Chinese leaders distort and manipulate the historical record in order to wring concessions from Japan and to shore up the patriotic loyalty of their own citizens. People in both countries suspect the other side of distorting the history of the war in their popular culture, media, and nationally approved educational curriculum for political reasons. This paper examines how Chinese secondary school history textbooks cover Japanese war-time atrocities in China; analyzes several documentary and feature films produced in China dealing with these issues; discusses the presentation of Japanese wartime atrocities in the Nanjing Massacre Memorial; reviews attitudes on these issues expressed by scholars and secondary teachers in Nanjing; and presents the findings of a pilot survey of Chinese college student attitudes toward Japan and these historical issues.

Population Migrations and the Formation of Ancient States in East Asia
Seongje Lee, Northeast Asian History Foundation, South Korea

Abstract not provided