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Isolating Knowledge of the Unpleasant: The Rape of Nanking in Japanese High-School Textbooks

Christopher Barnard
British Journal of Sociology of Education
Vol. 22, No. 4, The Sociology of the Curriculum (Dec., 2001), pp. 519-530
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1393426
Page Count: 12
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Isolating Knowledge of the Unpleasant: The Rape of Nanking in Japanese High-School Textbooks
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Abstract

This paper investigates how the Rape of Nanking in December 1937 and January 1938 by the Imperial Japanese Army is reported in the 88 history textbooks used in Japanese high schools in 1995, and which had passed the compulsory authorisation system of the Japanese Ministry of Education. An analysis of the language of the textbooks shows that, although the textbooks do deal with the this atrocity in reasonable detail, there is a consistent pattern of language use that has the effect of isolating knowledge of the Rape of Nanking from Japan and Japanese people. One possible result of this is that pupils in Japan today have no basis from which they can critically respond in an informed manner to denials within modern Japanese society that this atrocity took place. This discussion is framed in terms of a critical discourse analysis informed by the systemic functional model of grammar.

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