The Rape of Nanking in Japanese High School Textbooks: History Texts as Closed Texts
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This paper is a study of how the Rape of Nanking in December 1937 and January 1938 by the Japanese Army is reported in the 88 history textbooks used in Japanese high schools in 1995. The textbooks do, contrary to widely stated opinion, deal with the event in reasonable detail. However, an analysis of the language of the textbooks shows that they often contain this information in the form of closed text (in Eco’s sense of the term), which, I suggest, prevents students from arriving at a full understanding of the atrocity. One possible result of this is that students have no basis from which they can critically respond to denials within modern Japanese society that this well documented atrocity took place.