Territorial and boundary disputes have often been the cause of political tensions and conflict between nations, and if neither nation involved in the dispute is willing to withdraw its claims, or to compromise its positions to reach a negotiated settlement, these tensions can persist for years or even lead to war. The sovereignty dispute between China, Taiwan, and Japan over the Senkaku islands has persisted over many decades. Such disputes are often intense and difficult to resolve because they become connected to notions of national identity and patriotism. Such patriotic emotions are themselves the product of cultural memories that emerge as citizens come to understand and share common stories of their nation’s purpose, central values, and history. This chapter will focus on the Japanese national story as told in social studies school textbooks in order to understand how the government actively sought to influence what Japanese students from primary school through high school have been taught about these territorial disputes.
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