That Japanese History Textbook: 2001 vs. 2005

The anti-Japanese demonstrations in China and Korea were ignited by the new history school textbook prepared by the Japanese Society for Textbook Reform.  In the post Japanese History Textbooks (2005 edition), I have dealt with the summary of the changes in this textbook between the 2001 and 2005 editions.  At the time, the 2005 textbook was not yet available, and therefore the details were based upon information leaked to the Japanese media.  At this time, the Japanese Society for Textbook Reform has made its own Chinese translation of some sections of the 2005 edition available for the public on its website (in pdf).  They believed that they were misunderstood and they therefore want the Chinese public to see the whole truth.

Where do I even begin?  Here is a sample:


Japan and Other Asian Countries  This war turned various Asian lands into battle fields and brought the local people much damage and pain.  In particular, many Chinese soldiers and civilians were victims of the attacks by the Japanese army.  Japan imposed military rule in the various occupied areas of Southeast Asia.  In order to realize independence from the America and the European countries, the local independence movement leaders assisted the Japanese military rule.

Hmm ... it is good of them to acknowledge the pain and suffering inflicted by Japan upon others.  But that last sentence was a bizarre reading of the notion of 'collaborator.'  You wanted to have independence for your country; in order to rid yourself of your white masters, you turned around to serve your Japanese military masters who were probably orders of magnitude more brutal.  What an extraordinary idea!  It is true that these countries obtained their independence after WWII.  But what if the axis powers won that war?  Was Japan going to give those countries their independence?  I'd love to know what those local 'collaborators' were really thinking when they rationalized their actions.  Did they really think that the Japanese army was out there to help them achieve national independence?  If so, they are even more gullible than Japanese school children.  It was one thing for Mahatma Gandhi to refuse to help the British, it is something else for him to collaborate with the Japanese to rule over India!

I can go on and on with this document ...

But if the flash point of the recent Chinese/Korean demonstrations is identified as history revisionism, then I would do well to compare the 2001 and 2005 editions carefully and note the changes.  The Chinese translation of the 2001 edition, also done by the Japanese Society for Textbook Reform is available here (in pdf).

I will turn my attention to the section on the Sino-Japanese War.  I will list the two Chinese translations first and then I will set up my two English translations side by side.

The 2001 Edition (Section 66):

The 2005 Edition (Section 71):

2001 Edition [translated]

2005 Edition [translated]

Section 66.  The Sino-Japanese War

The Conflict Between China and Japan at the Marco Polo Bridge  The Japanese army including the local Kantogun army needed to sustain Manchuguo and to establish an economic zone, and therefore they planned to set up authorities which will not be under the direction of Chiang Kai-shek in the northern China areas next to Manchuria.  Therefore, the tension with China began to increase again.

Furthermore, Japan has a garrison of 4,000 soldiers outside of Beijing.  This is a right accorded to the foreign powers after the Boxer incident.  On July 7, 1937, someone aimed artillery shots at the Japanese army which was taking part in exercises on the Marco Polo Bridge on the outskirts of Beijing.  The next morning, the Japanese and Chinese armies were in combat mode (the Marco Polo Bridge incident).  The two sides attempted to negotiate there and then, but soon Japan sent in large numbers of soldiers in support and the Kuomintang government issued a general mobilization order.  This was how the 8-year Sino-Japanese war raised its curtains.

In August of the same year, in Shanghai where the foreign interests are concentrated, two Japanese soldiers were shot to death.  China and Japan went into full-scale war.  The Japanese believed that if they occupied the Kuomintang capital of Nanjing, then Chiang Kai-shek would surrender.  In December, Japan occupied Nanjing (at the time, many civilians died as a result of the Japanese occupation.  This is the Nanjing incident).  But Chiang Kai-shek transferred the capital to Chongqing and continued to resist.

The Aimless Quagmire of a War  As the war continued, Japan set up a wartime government.  In 1938, Japan introduced the National Mobilization Law.  Based upon this law, the government has the right to mobilize resources and manpower without the assent of the legislature.  Daily essentials were subject to rationing and price controls.  Furthermore, the media were censored.

As the war on mainland China went into stalemate without an end date, the Chinese Communist Party which was cooperating with the Kuomintang regarded the anti-Japanese war as a good opportunity to seize power, and therefore they worked to prolong the war.  Meanwhile, Japan lost sight of its war objectives so that the continuation of the war became the highest directive and the war continued indefinitely.  In 1940, a legislator asked at the Imperial Congress: "What is the purpose of this war?" and the government was unable to provide an adequate reply.

Section 71.  The Japan-China War

The Xian Incident  The Kuomintang government led by Chiang Kai-shek was facing off against the Chinese Communist Party, and China was in a state of civil war (the civil war between the Kuomintang and the Communists).

The Chinese Communists urged for a united front to resist Japan.  Yet, Chiang Kai-shek's policy was to knock down the Communist forces inside China before turning to facing Japan.  The superior Kuomintang army was cornering the Communists.

Zhang Xueliang was a warlord ousted by the Kantogun army from Manchuria.  Although Zhang Xueliang was ordered by Chiang Kai-shek to fight the Communists, he agreed with the Communists' proposal to resist Japan.  In 1936, Zhang Xueliang took Chiang Kai-shek hostage in Xian and made Chiang promise to stop the civil war and fight against Japan together (the Xian incident).

From the Marco Polo Bridge to the Japanese-Chinese War  On the other side, the Japanese army had to sustain Manchuguo and protect the resources and therefore it set up pro-Japan authorities in the neighboring areas in northern China.  This caused tensions between China and Japan to increase.  After the Boxer Rebellion, according to treaties, Japan and other powers can station 5,000 troops in the vicinity of Beijing.  On July 7, 1937, unknown persons fired at Japanese soldiers who were taking part in military exercises near the Marco Polo Bridge on the outside of Beijing.  This was the spark, and the Chinese army went into combat mode the next day (The Marco Polo Bridge incident).  This was a minor incident, and there were attempts to resolve it there and then.  But Japan decided to sent in large number of soldiers and the Kuomintang issued a general mobilization order.  Thus began the eight-year Sino-Japanese war.

In August of the same year, two Japanese were shot to death by soldiers in Shanghai where the foreign interests are concentrated.  This was the flashpoint for a Sino-Japanese conflict that could not be stopped.  The Japanese army thought that if they occupied the Kuomintang capital of Nanjing, then Chiang Kai-shek would surrender.  In December, Nanjing was occupied, but Chiang Kai-shek merely moved his capital to Chongqing in the interior and continued the war of resistance.


You can do your own homework and come to your own opinions.  I am weary ... besides, you should make up your own mind about this.

As another interesting exercise, here are the sections on Pearl Harbor and its antecedents.

The 2001 Edition: Sections 67-68.

The 2005 Edition (Sections 73-74)

2001 Edition [translated] 2005 Edition [translated]

Japan Under Economic Blockade  Japan needed to have sources for petroleum and negotiated with Holland which occupied Indonesia.  However, Holland refused.  Thus Japan was surrounded by the ABCD net formed by America, Britain, China and the Dutch.

In the spring of 1941, in order to open up the deteriorating American-Japanese relationship, the two sides began discussions in Washington DC.  Japan wanted to avoid war, and therefore counted greatly on these negotiations.  But the Americans had broken the secret communication code of the Japanese and knew what they were thinking.  The Americans directed the talks towards what favored American interests the most.

In July, the Japanese army and navy decided to enter southern Vietnam and take over Saigon.  Saigoni became the strategic base from which they can attack American possession Philippines, British possession Singapore and Dutch possession Indonesia.  The threatened Americans frozen all Japanese assets in the United States and imposed a total ban on petroleum exports to Japan.  Britain and the United States held talks on the Atlantic and issued the Atlantic agreement to express their common views with respect to war.  They agreed to delay the war against Japan by two to three months.

But Japan already had the intention to make war on the United States, even as if continued to conduct diplomatic negotiations with the United States.  In November, U.S. Secretary of State Hull issued a strongly worded proposal (the Hull document) that demanded Japan to withdraw unconditionally from China.  The Japanese government believed that this demand wanted Japan to surrender to the United States, and therefore decided to go to war.

Initial Victories  At 7am on December 8, 1941, people found out from the extra newspaper editions that the Japanese military has gone into a state of war with the British and American military.

Japanese naval airplanes raided the American Pacific fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  The warships sank one after another and the airplanes on the ground were destroyed.  It was a glorious result.  When the news was reported, the spirit of the people of Japan were lifted and the gloom of the Sino-Japanese war was wiped away.  For the first time after the First World War, the well-prepared Japan finally faced off with the United States.


This is first time that the locals won a victory after several hundred years of colonial rule by white people.  The string of victories by Japan gave the people of Southeast Asia and India the courage to dream of independence.

The Japanese government called this war the Great East Asian War (after the war, the Americans banned the use of this term and therefore it is called the Pacific War).  Japan claimed that this was a war of self-defense by Japan, and to establish the "Great East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere" in order to break down the stranglehold of the American and European countries.  After Japan, Germany and Italy also declared war against the United States.  This meant that the United States, Britain, Holland, Russia and China were united against Japan, Germany and Italy.  World War II had broken out fully.

The Economic Blockage of Japan  In order to obtain petroleum import, Japan attempted to negotiate with Holland which occupied Indonesia at the time, but was refused.  Thus, Japan was blockaded by the Americans, the British, the Chinese and the Dutch, known as the ABCD net.

In April 1941, in order to open up the deteriorating American-Japanese relationships, discussions were held in Washington DC but no progress was made.  In July, Japanese army and military entered Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City today) and took over south Indochina.  Saigon became a important military position for the southern push of Japan.  America felt a strong sense of danger and therefore took revenge immediately by freezing all Japanese assets in the United States and banning all petroleum exports to Japan.  In August, Britain and the United States held a conference on the Atlantic and issued the Atlantic agreement with respect to non-expansionism, static national boundaries, national self-determination and other strategic objectives.  Meanwhile, the American-Japanese negotiations went nowhere.  In November, America issued a strong demand for Japan to withdraw from China and Indochina unconditionally (the Hull memorandum).  Japan regarded this was as an ultimatum and therefore decided to make war against America.

74.  The Great East Asian War (the Pacific War)

On December 8, 1941, Japanese navy airplanes raided the Pearl Harbor (Hawaii) base of the United States.  The American Pacific fleet was almost completely annihilated.  The purpose of this action was to destroy America's main fleet and then secure sea control in the Pacific.  On the same day, the Japanese army landed in Malaysia and moved towards Singapore.

Japan declared war on Britain and the United States, calling this a "War of Self-Defense and Existence."  The Japanese government named this war the Great East Asian War.  Germany and Italy also declared war against the United States.  The Second World War was fought in various places around the world between the axis nations Japan, Germany and Italy against the allied nations of America, Britain, Holland, Russia and China.

Related Posts: