Japanese within the Manchukuo education bureaucracy stood out from their contemporaries in other Japanese colonies in their opposition to including militaristic and Japanese emperor-centered materials in the schools. As late as 1943, they published textbooks that focused on the students' daily lives rather than on encouraging respect for the military or reverence for the Japanese imperial family. Here, the author discusses how the congruence of an attempt by Manchukuo authorities at gaining authenticity and the progressive background of leading Japanese educators in the region brought about an education system that was unlike any other in the Japanese empire. Using Manchukuo textbooks, education journals, and postwar memoirs, the author examines a school of thought among Japanese colonial language educators, referred to as “reform optimists,” who held that whole language education could solve the contradiction between Manchukuo's stated ideal of ethnic equality and the reality of Japanese domination.

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