Nationalism in school textbooks : a comparative study of Britain and Japan, 1919-1955.
Nationalism is now unfashionable among intellectuals, but before the Second
World War it was a dominant ideology all over the world and had a great influence,
directly and indirectly, on the formation of one's world view. The following study
intends to examine how two nationalisms, British and Japanese, interpreted the world
in school textbooks. Britain and Japan represent different kinds of nationalism,
western and eastern respectively. The world has been described largely from the
western point of view since the West has continued to be the centre of historical
writing for these five hundred years. Yet, presumably, the rising sun on the eastern
horizon should have had a different picture; and to correct this imbalance by adding a
synchronistic viewpoint is one of the aims of this study. Before starting the textbook
analysis, however, the distinctively different education systems Britain and Japan
possess are explained in Chapter 1.
This study is divided into three parts, following three aspects of nationalism:
national tradition, national mission and national character in that order. There is in
fact considerable overlap between them, but the first part concentrates on exploring
where the national pride of the two countries originated from and how the idea of
honour to one's country was implanted in young minds. In the second the raison d'etre
of each nation in the world defined according to their national tradition is discussed.
Then the last part compares the two national characters inherited from the past and
thought to be necessary to carry out their historical missions.
In each chapter, 'continuity' is also an important theme. Did any shift in
emphasis or focus take place after the two world wars? Most significantly, Britain has
never lost a war since 1776, and therefore it could be argued that she has never been
urged to reflect upon her past seriously for she always could justify herself. On the
other hand,. Japan accepted unconditional surrender in 1945 and her imperialism was
condemned by the whole international community. How did these markedly different
experiences affect the world view in textbooks?