ABSTRACT

Japanese textbook trea1ments of war and colonialism have been a highly politicized issue within Japan since 1945, but they did not become a major source of diplomatie conflict with Asian nations until1982, after government officials tried to use the textbook certification system to mute the critical tone oftextbooks. The government ofthe republic ofKorea was particularly critical of depictions of Japanese rule of the Korean peninsula. One important response to that controversy was the creation ofthe Japan--South Korea Joint Study Group on History Textbooks, which subjected the issues ofwar, citizenship, and imperialism to cross-national study. The joint research by Japanese and Korean scholars on Japanese textbooks offers new perspectives on the issues and illustrates the difficulties of achieving historical consensus. 1

The joint study group originated in 1989, when Kanazawa University professor Fujisawa H)ei received a letter from Yi T' ae-yLng, a South Korean historian. Vi, then president ofHonam University, is currently head ofthe Korea International Textbook Research Institute. The two had had no previous contact. Yi mentioned having read Fujisawa 's Doitsu-jin no Rekishi Ishiki-Ky)kasho ni miru Sens) Sekinin (German Awareness of History:

Responsibility for War as Represented in Textbooks) in Gennany. (In his book Fujisawa allocated considerable space to the treatment of GennanPolish exchanges on history textbook development.) Yi then visited Fujisawa and proposed holding a joint Japanese-Korean study project of history textbooks following such a model of exchange. In the summer of 1990, Fujisawa visited South Korea and met several researchers in order to organize the study group. Because the group was established just after the Korean president's visit to Japan, it drew considerable media attention.2