China: Japanese Textbooks


In the American system, some powerful lobbies are simply dishonest and do their utmost to weaken the agencies which are supposed to regulate them.  They intrigue to get Congress to reduce their budget, a danger of which the agencies are aware and afraid. The dishonesty of some lobbies was evident when for example three fat tobacco executives, speaking under oath before a congressional committee, declared that smoking is not addictive. The meat lobbies fought the agency trying to enforce controls on e-coli and salmonella and  they worked hard to get the agency's budget cut.There were public demonstrations in Washington, and for once I found myself supporting the demonstrators. One of the worst e-mail spammers in this country was sentenced to a jail sentence. A judge stayed the ruling on the grounds that there was a constitutional issue at stake. The direct mailing lobby was working behind the scenes.

The affects scholarship, international relations and WAIS. The Library of Congress had a collection of Nazi textbooks. They were destroyed.  My guess is that pressure was brought on the Library. Being the Library of Congress, it is especially vulnerable to pressure from Congress.  The case which directly affects WAIS is our plan, as part of the Learning History project, to study Japanese history textbooks which gloss over episodes like the rape of Nanking.  I wrote a long memorandum to the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, with a copy to Librarian of Congress James Billington, a historian.  I did not even get the courtesy of an acknowledgment. Kyle Ward, the author of the important book History Lessons who is actively interested in the Learning History project, tells me that he had a similar experience.  Clearly neither the National Endowment for the Humanities nor the Library of Congress wants to offend our Japanese allies.

Now, throughout China there are anti-Japanese street demonstrations provoked by new Japanese textbooks which still fail to report on Japanese atrocities in China.  Clearly the Chinese public feels strongly on the subject.  Since the government has made little effort to curb the demonstrators, it may be assumed that it agrees with them. That the National Endowment for the Humanities and the historians affiliated with it refuse to acknowledge any interest in this serious matter is a breach of academic freedom. Were the Endowment to sponsor such a study there could well be a protest from the Japanese government, and Congress could cut the Endowment's budget.  Money talks louder than honest research on important issues.

Randy  Black quotes me as saying.: The Library of Congress had a collection of Nazi textbooks. They were destroyed: When and where did you hear such a story? The Library of Congress has one of the largest collections of Nazi era books and rare manuscripts in the world and continues to build on that collection.  RH: This I understand was before James Billington became Librarian of Congress. I know him personally; indeed I nominated him for president of Stanford University, and I am well aware of his scholarly achievements, which Randy enumerates:

Librarian of Congress, Dr. Billington, is the author of Mikhailovsky and Russian Populism (1956), The Icon and the Axe (1966), Fire in the Minds of Men (1980), Russia Transformed: Breakthrough to Hope, August 1991 (1992) and The Face of Russia (1998), the companion book to the three-part television series of the same name, which he wrote and narrated for the Public Broadcasting Service. The Icon and the Axe, Fire in the Minds of Men and The Face of Russia have been translated and published in a variety of languages. Dr. Billington has accompanied ten congressional delegations to Russia and the former Soviet Union. In June 1988 he accompanied President and Mrs. Reagan to the Soviet Summit in Moscow. He is the founder of the Open World Program and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Open World Leadership Center. The Open World Program is a nonpartisan initiative of the U.S. Congress that has brought 6,265 emerging young Russian political leaders to communities throughout America.

Dr. Billington has received 33 honorary degrees, as well as the Woodrow Wilson Award from Princeton University (1992), the UCLA Medal (1999), and the Pushkin Medal of the International Association of the Teachers of Russian Language and Culture (2000). Most recently he was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Tbilisi in Georgia (1999) and the Moscow State University for the Humanities (2001). He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford in November 2002.

Dr. Billington is an elected member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and has been decorated as Chevalier and again as a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters of France, as Commander of the National Order of the Southern Cross of Brazil, awarded the Order of Merit of Italy, and a Knight Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit by the Federal Republic of Germany. He has also been awarded the Gwanghwa Medal by the Republic of Korea, and the Chingiz Aitmatov Gold Medal by the Kyrgyz Republic.

Regarding Chinese protests against Japanese textbooks which fail to mention Japanese crimes in China, Christopher Jones says: I wonder if mankind will ever learn the meaning of hypocrisy.  A crime against humanity is not license to commit another crime against others.  The current demonstrations in China against "Japanese textbooks" and the general unwillingness by Japan to come to grips with its terrible legacy in WWII leaves me pretty cold.  The Chinese have stomped on the Tibetan people, massacred them, stripped them of the culture and inflicted exactly the same what the Japanese did to them.  Al this after the end of hostilities in 1945.  Also after the end of WWII, the Chinese government inflicted an "auto-genocide" on its own people called "The Great Leap Forward" that starved as many as 30 million people to death.  The inheritors of the communist government are still in power oblivious to the next outrage, when Chinese army tanks flattened protesters as flat as pancakes on Tienanmen square (forgive my spelling.)  At the same time, super hypocrites Jacques Chirac and Gerd Schröder are lobbying to lift the EU embargo on weapons sale to the extremely dangerous yellow threat, hoping, mistakenly in my view that such a measure will create employment at home.  The Chinese government could contribute to a better atmosphere by withdrawing fromTibet, signing a non aggression accord with Taiwan, begin the democratization process at home and cancel its bellicose plans to modernise its gigantic armed forces.

RH: Christopher makes an excellent point.   The answer is to examine Chinese textbooks to see what they say about the episodes Christopher deplores. American officials who hesitate to offend Japan, which they regard as a bulwark against China, might welcome such an inspection of Chinese textbooks.  The Learning History project affects all countries.  Some library, possibly the Library of Congress, should have a special section devoted to history textbooks of every country of the world.  I know of no such collection.

Regarding Chinese protests against Japanese textbooks which fail to mention Japanese crimes in China, Christopher Jones says: I wonder if mankind will ever learn the meaning of hypocrisy.  A crime against humanity is not license to commit another crime against others.  The current demonstrations in China against "Japanese textbooks" and the general unwillingness by Japan to come to grips with its terrible legacy in WWII leaves me pretty cold.  The Chinese have stomped on the Tibetan people, massacred them, stripped them of the culture and inflicted exactly the same what the Japanese did to them.  Al this after the end of hostilities in 1945.  Also after the end of WWII, the Chinese government inflicted an "auto-genocide" on its own people called "The Great Leap Forward" that starved as many as 30 million people to death.  The inheritors of the communist government are still in power oblivious to the next outrage, when Chinese army tanks flattened protesters as flat as pancakes on Tienanmen square (forgive my spelling.)  At the same time, super hypocrites Jacques Chirac and Gerd Schröder are lobbying to lift the EU embargo on weapons sale to the extremely dangerous yellow threat, hoping, mistakenly in my view that such a measure will create employment at home.  The Chinese government could contribute to a better atmosphere by withdrawing fromTibet, signing a non aggression accord with Taiwan, begin the democratization process at home and cancel its bellicose plans to modernise its gigantic armed forces.

RH: Christopher makes an excellent point.   The answer is to examine Chinese textbooks to see what they say about the episodes Christopher deplores. American officials who hesitate to offend Japan, which they regard as a bulwark against China, might welcome such an inspection of Chinese textbooks.  The Learning History project affects all countries.  Some library, possibly the Library of Congress, should have a special section devoted to history textbooks of every country of the world.  I know of no such collection.

Christopher Jones writes: The "Learning History" project could try to balance those Chinese textbooks with Tibetan history books, which must be easily obtainable at Dharamsala, India.  The exile Tibetan community survives there under the guidance of the Dalai Lama.  I suspect that the Chinese books either omit leave out anything remotely to do with Tibet or crank out the usual propaganda that it was "always" a part of China, backward, under the thumb of a bunch of crooks called the lamas, etc.  When then Secretary General Hu Yaobang visited the area, he was so appalled that even he equated China's policies with genocide --  Hu Yaobang was quickly purged.
 
Another sticky element is the "Great Leap" and how the communists describe it and how many deaths it provoked.  But already, it is fairly easy to deduce what the CCP's attitude could be.  Last night I saw a pitiful documentary about the men in their mid 20s to mid 30s who are dying of silicosis in China because the factories are so poorly equipped.  They have no hope and will shortly expire; they have had no right to compensation, as a matter of fact, they have been treated worse than garbage --  in their own country by their own race.  This is the real face of the economic "wunderkind" everybody loves so much.


Ronald Hilton 2005

Top

last updated: June 8, 2005