I came across this rather personal and refreshing account of history lessons in Japan by the BBC correspondent Mariko Oi.

As somebody who has also been educated in Korea as well as outside of Korea, I can identify somewhat with her. I was just talking with some friends the other day about what history topics we have learned about at school, and the way history is taught in Asia compared to say, the UK – whether the emphasis on learning the skill of objective dissection based on several pieces of evidence (e.g. in the UK) is actually as clearly more beneficial as it sounds compared to the rote Asian method of getting through as much of the actual historical facts (e.g. names of Kings and dates of things).

From Oi’s BBC article:

My friends had a chance to choose world history as a subject in Year 11. But by that stage I had left the Japanese schooling system, and was living in Australia. I remember the excitement when I noticed that instead of ploughing chronologically through a given period, classes would focus on a handful of crucial events in world history.
So brushing aside my teacher’s objection that I would struggle with the high volume of reading and writing in English – a language I could barely converse in – I picked history as one of my subjects for the international baccalaureate.

My first ever essay in English was on the Rape of Nanjing.

It’s funny to see the comment protesting against this article by the other Japanese as I came across the article because a Japanese friend posted it on her Facebook. One protest comment (in Japanese) asks why should Japan be pressured by the neighbouring nations about Japanese history lessons when the UK PM Cameron didn’t apologize to the Indians during his recent visit and when the US never apologized to the Japanese for the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.