National | Regional voices: Chubu

Aichi finds wartime elementary school teaching materials

Chunichi Shimbun

Teaching materials for third-year students who attended Kokumin Gakko (equivalent to a modern-day elementary school) in Aichi Prefecture during the Pacific War have been discovered in Aisai, Aichi Prefecture.

Believed to have been used for summer homework, the materials recommend students visit injured soldiers, pay respects to the fallen, and memorize the different types of enemy aircraft. Experts consider them to be “important materials that proved war education was part of the children’s daily lives.” The materials were displayed at the Saori Community Center until March 11.

Titled “Summer Life,” there were 16 pages printed on A5-sized paper and they were edited by the prefecture’s education group in 1943.

According to records of educational materials issued by the Aichi Prefectural Board of Education, the wartime education group was in charge of publishing books and magazines related to education, as well as organizing lectures.

In the notes for parents written at the beginning of the texts, the following message was written: “Please teach them to have a strong mind so we can achieve victory in the Great East Asia War (the Pacific War).” This was followed by illustrations and homework for the children in the summer.

There were also messages from children, including, “To soldiers who died for our country, thank you,” and “You soldiers make it possible for us to live happily.”

While there are descriptions that offer vivid reminders of the war, there is also content that current elementary school students would recognize, such as an explanation on where the fins of a Japanese black porgy are located and pictures illustrating the breaststroke swimming technique.

According to the Aisai Municipal Government, officials discovered the teaching materials when they were clearing out historical documents at the Hachikai branch office last summer.

They were believed to have been donated by citizens of the now-defunct village of Hachikai before it merged with Aisai in 2015.

“We get textbooks used in the war sometimes, but it is rare to find materials that were used as supplementary reading,” said Sachiko Matsushita, 47, curator at a museum on wars in Nagoya and Aichi Prefecture.

The materials were part of the “Aisai Saijiki” exhibition that introduced local traditional events and school events.

“There was a strong war sentiment, but they also included fun educational contents. I hope it gives (viewers) a sense of what children were like back then,” said Aya Hashiba, 29, a temporary staff member from the city’s Lifelong Learning Division.

The exhibition also displayed other historical documents, including a graduation certificate from a regular elementary school.

For more information, please contact the community center at 0567 (26) 1123.

This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published March 7.