Education and Nationalism

Directed by Hisayo Saika

108 minutes / Color
Japanese; English / English subtitles
Closed Captioned
Release: 2023
Copyright: 2022

A group of uniformed Japanese schoolchildren make their way to class. But what they will be taught when they get there is a subject increasingly under government scrutiny.

EDUCATION AND NATIONALISM traces growing government intervention in Japanese history and social science education over the last decade — a process embraced by the late Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

It began with a seemingly minor change to an elementary school ethics book: An illustration of a bakery in a story about kids loving their neighborhood was replaced by one of traditional Japanese sweets. But over time, the interventions have grown more serious. Individual teachers and academics have been verbally attacked by government officials, their loyalty to Japan questioned, and their funding put in jeopardy. The rhetoric is particularly fierce around the issue of Koreans forced to serve as “comfort women” and laborers during the war. One longstanding textbook publisher, shamed for its clear talk about Japanese atrocities in WWII, went bankrupt.

EDUCATION AND NATIONALISM serves as a warning about the dangers of nationalist governments setting educational agendas — an issue that touches not only Japan, but many other countries all over the world.

“A great documentary that manages to highlight very important issues in the most thorough fashion possible, and a film that is bound to make any viewer angry towards the shady tactics of a government that actually wants to shape history according to its own benefit.” —Asian Movie Pulse

“[EDUCATION AND NATIONALISM] is likely to resonate with American viewers, especially those in the field of education. Many Japanese and American politicians share the goal of promoting nationalism at the cost of providing a nuanced, critical view of history.” —Educational Media Reviews Online

“An outstanding exposé on the effects political culture wars can have on the factuality of children’s education… Professors interested in the current debates over Black history education and LGBTQ+ literature will find this documentary incredibly thought-provoking.—Video Librarian

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Select Accolades

  • World Premiere, Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema 2023


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