Questions on how to teach our kids history

By Ed Heinrich-Sanchez

Three Japanese scientists have been awarded the Nobel Price for inventing the blue LED,  This year, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has begun a five year plan for English education reform as we move towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Another question is, will Japan’s leadership be able to make amends with China and Korea by then? Some are even calling for an Olympic boycott. I believe that a successful Tokyo Olympics could mark a new era in Asia-Pacific area collaboration.

Last September 19th, the Liberal Democratic Party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who leads the committee on Re-evaluation of Global Information Strategy has denied the existence of “Comfort Women” based on falsified reports published in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper while not taking into consideration testimonies or other reports. The Kono apology is being reviewed, and retiring the apology is being considered.

Us living in, and those serving in Japan, might be aware of the constant headlines for the revision of history in classroom textbooks.

Did the Holocaust really happen? How has Germany dealt with its post-war education and its Nazi legacy while at the same time raising its children with self-esteem, hope and confidence? How do the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunals and the Tokyo War Crime Trials compare now after almost 65 years has passed?

As reported by the CBS Denver, protests by students and teachers against the conservative Board of Education on Advanced Placement (AP) History Test was started at the Jefferson County BOE meeting last month:

What started the Colorado protests?

On Sep. 18, the Jefferson County Board of Education met and proposed setting up a committee to ensure that the courses “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

In Japan instilling patriotic values is an essential part of this strategy. As reported by the Asahi Shimbun in its Mar. 2 2014 edition, “The revision of manuals forms a pillar of education reform advocated by Abe, who has criticized the postwar education system for its ‘masochistic view of the nation’s history.’

“Japan’s education has been distorted since the end of the war,” Abe has said. “Japan can never achieve true independence unless it casts off the postwar education system.”

Japan has and is especially now deeper in controversy as Prime Minister Abe’s cabinet pushes for reform in how history is taught in order to instill ‘patriotic values.’ It has been reported that his administration considers invalid the Tokyo War Crime Trials where his grandfather Nobusuke Kishi was also indicted but never convicted. According to his profile in Wikipedia he was known as the “Showa no Yokai” or “The Showa monster/devil”. He served as the 56th and 57th Prime Minister of Japan. Prime Minister Abe seems to be following in his grandfather’s footsteps. The profile continues with, “As a Prime Minister, Kishi’s own heritage was ambivalent; on one hand he worked for international peace, but on the other he promoted revisionism by liberating war criminals and dedicating in Mount Sangane a headstone to Hideki Tojo and six other war criminals executed after the Tokyo trial, marking their grave as that of “the seven patriots who died for their country.”

How can Japan teach about World War II while conserving the new generations self-esteem, patriotism and honor on this small planet we call home?

Fox News reported last December that “Japan’s Shinzo Abe honors war criminals, enrages friends… “declaring those convicted and tried as “Showa Era Martyrs”.

What version of history can be agreed upon? Not only in the US and Japan but in China, Korea and other countries? What does China have to say about the Tienanmen Square incident, Tibet and its persecution of the Falung Gong or the Muslim Uighur people? What would you do if you were in PM Abe’s shoes? Comments on how to find a solution as we come up to Armistice Day on Nov. 11th are welcome. Honk your horn or ring a bell at 11:11 on Nov. 11th, and hope we do not repeat the history of the Holocaust, the Pacific War and wars that continue… May Peace Prevail on this Blue Planet.

As we close the United Nations Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) we cannot forget that in order for us to get to the starting line of creating a sustainable world, we first need to be on the same page when it concerns how we got here in the first place.

On Tuesday, Governor HIrokazu Nakaima, and challengers to his seat Shokichi Kina and Mikio Shimoji, held a debate sponsored by the “Okinawa Future Tourism Planning Association” (not official translation). While all spoke about increasing runways at the airport and tripling tourism, nothing was mentioned about how to prepare for the increased numbers regarding a sustainable tourism industry. English was mentioned along with human resources development without enough details. A future column will be dedicated to the upcoming elections.