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Friday, December 02, 2005

National Education Lesson: Japanese language policy in Asia until 1945

Linguistic imperialism: Japanese language policy in Asia until 1945

"The goal of the cultural/educational policy in Japan-ruled areas was to linguistically, culturally and morally Japanize/imperialize or brainwash the local people by means of school education. The wartime implementation of the policy was extremely harsh: while the Japanese militaristic government launched the propaganda of liberating Europe/US-colonized Asia and establishing a Daitoa Kyoeiken [Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Hemisphere] in its place, with Japan as the leader of the Hemisphere. It actually implied mobilization of resources, both manual and natural, from the occupied areas as it did so. The Japanese education in Japan-ruled areas as well as in Japan was directed to serve this scheme. But the scheme collapsed with the defeat of Japan in 1945.

What characterized the Japanese cultural and educational program in the colonized/occupied areas was the inculcation/indoctrination of Japanese spirit of ethnocentric ideology. It was intended to inspire the new subjects to believe in Japan being a god's country. In addition, the diffusion of Japanese was incorporated, which resulted very often in stamping out the local languages, traditional culture and values. The ultimate goal was to produce loyal subjects of the Japanese Emperor by compelling assimilation of all the dominated people into the existing Japanese order. With this policy of forced assimilation, the Japanese language, which was intended to become a lingua franca within the hemisphere, played a key role in integrating Asian peoples under the Hakko Ichiu [the eight corners of the world under one roof] framework. The educational programs under the Japanese authorities particularly compelled the acquisition of Japanese...

The educational principles of the military administration in Malay/Singapore under Japanese claimed that:

  1. Cultural and educational administration of the occupied areas lies in demonstrating to the Southern peoples the Japanese imperial spirit of Hakko ichiu and unify the national cultures into Japanese culture,
  2. education should contribute to master useful industries and skills in order to promote local industries,
  3. Japanese should be diffused to promote common communication in the Kyoeiken Hemisphere,
  4. respect to labor and promotion of industrious mind should be enhanced. (Fundamental Principles on Education: 1.1942)

There daily seem to be new lessons we can learn, in National Education classes, from the Japanese Occupation of Singapore.

Today's lesson (with reference to the quoted extracts above):

One always has to be critical of what one learns in school, and not accept it blindly as gospel truth, since it may be taught for reasons other than strictly pedagogical ones.
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