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The History ProblemThe Politics of War Commemoration in East Asia$
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Hiro Saito

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824856748

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824856748.001.0001

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The Role of Historians in the History Problem

The Role of Historians in the History Problem

(p.155) Chapter 6 The Role of Historians in the History Problem
The History Problem

Hiro Saito

University of Hawai'i Press

Historians’ critical reflections are indispensable for reassessing the Tokyo Trial and resolving the history problem. Recently, these critical reflections have multiplied in East Asia through joint historical research and education projects. Nevertheless, historians have been unable to effectively intervene in the history problem because no adequate mechanisms are institutionalized through which their criticism of nationalism can move official and public commemorations in a more cosmopolitan direction. This situation is largely engineered by the governments of Japan, South Korea, and China that control history education through curricular guidelines and textbook inspection. The governments also maintain the education systems that force students to memorize “historical facts” for examinations instead of cultivating skills to critically evaluate historical materials and interpretations – the very skills necessary for resolving the history problem. Thus, the cosmopolitan potential of historians, to help citizens to critically reflect on their nationalist commemorations, has not been fully realized.

Keywords:   Japan, South Korea, China, joint historical research and education project, historians, commemoration, history education

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