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Hironobu Ishikawa

【#449(Special)】Japan Study Award Winners Confronting Biased Historical View

Hironobu Ishikawa / 2017.07.03 (Mon)

June 28, 2017

     On July 5, the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals will hold a ceremony to honor University of Miami Professor June Dreyer with the Japan Study Award and former New York Times Tokyo Bureau chief Henry Stokes with the Japan Study Special Award. Dreyer will deliver a special lecture on her book titled “Middle Kingdom and Empire of the Rising Sun: Sino-Japanese Relations, Past and Present” (Oxford University Press), for which she is to receive the award. The book argues against China-led Japan bashing theory that has been dominant since the end of World War II and offers a fair view within a long-term framework of Japan-China relations extending over 1,400 years. Stokes has authored “Fallacies in the Allied Nations' Historical Perception as Observed by a British Journalist” (Hamilton Books), causing controversy within Western journalism. Both Dreyer and Stokes courageously stand up against one-sided historical view that has been taken for granted.

Poor Japan study in Europe
     Dreyer, a political scientist specialized in China, had to study at Japan’s Kyoto University for research on ethnic minority problems in China in the second half of the 1960s, experiencing firsthand the inconvenience of China study. Fortunately for Japan, the experience prompted her to study Japan-China relations. While documents on Japan-China relations have been dominantly favorable for China, she read Japanese-language documents to make up for a shortfall.
     Four years ago, JINF sent a fact-finding mission led by its vice president Tadae Takubo to London to explore scholars looking at Japan’s true picture for research and publication. The mission visited the University of London known as a center of Japan study in Europe and interviewed officials with Oxford and Cambridge Universities and other private research institutes. While 40 to 50 researchers in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Netherlands and other countries were listed up, their research achievements were not encouraging. Many of them tended to be influenced by Marxist historical view, follow the historical view based on the rulings of Tokyo Tribunal after World War II, or preach white supremacy or missionary messages. It was difficult for us to expect fair views from them.

Role of JINF marking 10th anniversary
     Under President Yoshiko Sakurai’s initiative to inform foreigners of facts, JINF became the first private research institute in 2014 to create the Japan Study Award for foreign researchers. Since then, JINF has selected a total of 11 award winners including those from the United States, China, Russia, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. A scholar from China’s Inner Mongolia who were naturalized in Japan is also among the recipients.
     However, we still have a long way to go. Since the Asahi Shimbun newspaper withdrew its wrong reports about comfort women, transmission of information from Japan in English have increased, though gradually. Apparently in order to protect their positions, however, Western scholars tend to adamantly view Japan’s recent attitude as representing historical revisionism or return to militarism. I anew appreciate the significance of the role of JINF marking its 10th anniversary late this year.

Hironobu Ishikawa is a Director and Planning Committee Member, the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals