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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
February 22, 2021

Torsten Weber quoted in Süddeutsche Zeitung article on Japanese history textbooks

© Süddeutsche Zeitung

DIJ historian Torsten Weber was interviewed by the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung for an article on the debate about history textbooks in Japan. Torsten explains that due to the so-called “neighbouring country clause” the majority of Japanese history textbooks presented a mainstream and relatively well-balanced narrative of Japanese imperialism and war-time aggression. The main objective of the textbooks was to prepare for entry exams. Consequently, they focused on teaching facts, causal relations, and omitted interpretations and controversial statements. Torsten gives the example of the Nanjing atrocities which are explicitly mentioned in the textbooks, including the victimization of Chinese civilians by the Japanese military. However, they avoided giving a number of victims as this remains a contested issue between the governments of Japan and the PR China. The article “Es geht um das, was nicht drinsteht” (It’s about what’s not in it) appeared in the print version of the SZ on 22 February and can be read online here.