What Japanese history lessons leave out

tags: World War II, Japan, BBC News, textbooks, history curriculum



Mariko Oi is a reporter for the BBC.

Japanese people often fail to understand why neighbouring countries harbour a grudge over events that happened in the 1930s and 40s. The reason, in many cases, is that they barely learned any 20th Century history. I myself only got a full picture when I left Japan and went to school in Australia.

From Homo erectus to the present day - 300,000 years of history in just one year of lessons. That is how, at the age of 14, I first learned of Japan's relations with the outside world.

For three hours a week - 105 hours over the year - we edged towards the 20th Century.

It's hardly surprising that some classes, in some schools, never get there, and are told by teachers to finish the book in their spare time.

When I returned recently to my old school, Sacred Heart in Tokyo, teachers told me they often have to start hurrying, near the end of the year, to make sure they have time for World War II....



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