Common perception on history

These days Tokyo’s views and attitudes toward the aggression committed by Japanese forces during World War II are much talked about not only in neighboring countries but also among common Japanese. Lately I had the opportunity to talk about our former history classes in school with friends from different generations.

A lot of senior citizens who have recently retired recall being taught about Japan’s conduct before and during the war, but that it was sometimes too masochistic for Japan to accept. At that time, Japan was still in a state of chaotic politics. The conservatives — meaning, of course, the Liberal Democratic Party — and the Japan Socialist Party and their allies were fighting it out.

On the other hand, people in their 40s say that their history classes often would end before the teachers could get around to teaching them about the war. It was as if the classes deliberately ran out of time to avoid teaching controversial things. By this time, the power of the Socialist Party had declined, so the atmosphere of the schools and their boards of education seemed to have changed.

It is often the case that the political situation affects school education. As a result, I think the Japanese have been prevented from a developing a common perception on their history.

In order to share a historic view and interpretation with neighboring countries, the Japanese, first and foremost, should strive for a common view on these issues, no matter how time-consuming and thorny the task.

shuichi john watanabe
tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.