International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 83-103

First online:

School History Textbooks and Historical Memories in Japan: A Study of Reception

  • Kazuya FukuokaAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, Saint Joseph’s University Email author 

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Memory wars in Asia still revolve around Japan. Much has been discussed on the so-called kyōkasho mondai (history textbook controversies), yet, not much has been explored on the domestic social function of history textbooks per se. Emphasizing creators of history narratives (and their production), the field tends to overlook the audience, or, receivers in the process. In this article, by referring to the original interviews with Japanese college students, I question the very assumption of the creator–receiver connection. How are history textbooks perceived as a source for promoting Japanese people’s underlying historical consciousness? How have they been utilized in schools? Are they useful? If so, how? If not, why? I argue that in the case of Japan, how people reflect upon history issues is not necessarily the function of school history textbooks as often assumed, making a strong case for the importance of receivers in the analysis of public discourse.


Collective memory War memory Cultural reception School history textbooks Japan