Japan's Past, Japan's Future: One Historian's Odyssey

Japan's Past, Japan's Future: One Historian's Odyssey

Paperback Voices and Visions

By (author) Ienaga Saburo, By (author) Richard H. Minear


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  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
  • Format: Paperback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 226mm x 13mm | 328g
  • Publication date: 1 January 2001
  • Publication City/Country: Lanham, MD
  • ISBN 10: 0742509893
  • ISBN 13: 9780742509894
  • Edition: 192
  • Illustrations note: bibliography, index
  • Sales rank: 1,634,311

Product description

'Win or lose- What matter? We fight for freedom of spirit.' Thus writes Ienaga Saburo, preeminent Japanese historian and courageous plaintiff in three lawsuits (1965D1997) against the government seeking to end Ministry of Education OcertificationO of textbooks, which even today constrains discussion of Japan's actions in China and elsewhere in the Pacific. The cases arose specifically from government censorship of Ienaga's forthright textbook accounts of the Pacific War and of such controversial events as the Nanjing massacre. The questions he has forced into the public arena are central both to the nature of Japanese democracy and to issues of war and memory. They have shaped Japanese politics and frictions with its Asian neighbors and with the United States for half a century. Spanning Japan's watershed twentieth century, this compelling autobiography traces Ienaga's childhood, education, wartime experience, academic career, and the two major battles that occupied his later years. One was the fight against the relocation of Tokyo University of Education to a new Oresearch cityO outside Tokyo; the other was the fight against Ocertification.O Neither battle ended in victory for Ienaga, but as he eloquently expresses in the short poem above, defeat did not make them any less worth fighting. Minear provides a masterly introduction of the man and his times and brings the story to the present with excerpts from Ienaga's court testimony and recent interviews. Illustrated with photos and textbook extracts, this volume brings to life the experience and intellectual odyssey of one of the leading shapers of contemporary Japan. It will be widely read and used by Japan specialists as well as all scholars and general readers concerned with issues of academic freedom and war and peace.

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Author information

Ienaga Saburo (1913-), now retired, was a professor at Tokyo University of Education from 1944 to 1977 and the author of dozens of books (several translated into English, German, French, Spanish, and Russian) on Buddhist thought, on art, and on social and intellectual history. He remains one of Japan's _ and the world's _ foremost intellectuals. Richard H. Minear is professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the author of Dr. Seuss Goes to War.

Review quote

Out of one man's frailty of health and youthful failure to resist aggressive war came a lifetime of courageous protest against the power of the state to control freedom of thought in postwar Japan. Ienaga tells of his decades-long court battle on behalf of truth in school textbooks in this modest but moving memoir of a dedicated 'historian of conscience.' -- Carol Gluck, Columbia University The book is an autobiography of historian Ienaga Saburo, known for his decades-long court battle challenging the constitutionality of the government's school textbook screening system. The autobiography covers his recollections from infancy to the textbook trials up to the original publication. The translator provides an introduction of Ienaga and his times, including excerpts from his court testimony and recent interviews. Japan Quarterly Ienaga Saburo has long carried on a courageous battle in Japan to free textbooks from government control. He has boldly exposed how history has been distorted in the interest of national pride. His story is an important and inspiring one. -- Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States and professor emeritus of Political Science, Boston University This autobiographical narrative tells a fascinating and stirring story that is virtually unknown in America. It centers on the long, brave struggle by Japan's leading historian to challenge the official custodians of historical truth who control Tokyo's Ministry of Education. Japan's Past, Japan's Future provides deep insight into the refusal to allow textbooks for all ages used throughout Japan to portray the grim realities of the country's dark history. -- Richard Falk, Princeton University and University of California, Santa Barbara Conveys the author's passionate regard for principle, his fascinating perspectives on a tumultuous era in Japanese history and commitment to democracy. Times Higher Education Supplement Ienaga Saburo is an authentic 20th-century hero, and Minear has done a tremendous service with this translation of Ienaga's memoir... [It] gives an intimate portrait of Ienaga's life, as both a scholar and a man of conscience. Minear's translation is clear and graceful and brings Ienaga's voice to an infinitely wider audience. CHOICE This inspiring autobiography...proves that Ienaga is a world-class champion of democratic integrity combating oppressive conformity. Asia Times For all those interested in academic freedom in individual conscience, and in the struggle over how to respond to the new Japanese middle-school history textbook, Ienaga's story is a salutary lesson. The translation by Richard H. Minear is fluid and very readable. -- Michael R. Auslin, Yale University Journal of Asian Studies This is an invaluable contribution to English-speaking educational researchers and educators everywhere. History of Education Quarterly

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Translator's Preface Chapter 2 Translator's Introduction Chapter 3 Recollections from Infancy Chapter 4 Education in the Period of Taisho Democracy and Its Effects on Me Chapter 5 Drawn to History: Recollections of Middle School Chapter 6 A Copernican Revolution in My Educational Life Chapter 7 Student Life after the Extinction of the Student Movement Chapter 8 My Life as a Scholar, Begun in the Era of the "Dark Valley" Chapter 9 My State of Mind in the Period Immediately after the Defeat Chapter 10 The Beginning of the Reverse Course and the Maturing of My Social Consciousness Chapter 11 To the Filing of the Textbook Lawsuits Chapter 12 The Textbook Trials and the Struggle at Tokyo University of Education