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China and Inner Asia
In Session: New Perspectives on the Wang Jingwei "Collaborationist" Regime (1940-1945) and Its Significance: Politics, Culture, Literature, and Education
2: Beyond "Enslavement": Education under the Wang Jingwei regime
Friday, March 26, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
University of British Columbia, Canada
From 1940 to 1945, the Japanese-backed occupation state led by Wang Jingwei, known as the Reorganized National Government (RNG), operated an education system in the provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang, and Guangdong. With the Japanese surrender and the dissolution of the RNG in 1945, the entirety of this system was delegitimated as "enslavement education" by the returning Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek. With RNG textbooks banned, teachers and institutions branded as "bogus," and students subjected to a political screening regimen, an important aspect of occupation history fell into obscurity, subject only to undifferentiated condemnation when it has appeared in Chinese scholarship.
Preliminary English-language scholarship on the Nanjing-based occupation state known as the Reformed Government (1938-1940) and the early years of the RNG itself has emphasized the presence of pro-Japanese propaganda in history textbooks. For this study, however, I examine textbooks for use in primary and secondary education that were produced in Nanjing between 1942 and 1944, by which time the RNG had more fully consolidated itself and begun producing educational materials distinct from those it inherited from the preceding Reformed Government. In particular, English language textbooks and those on civic education offer a fuller picture of the RNG's national vision, its intentions for Chinese young people, and how they were meant to engage with the world. Considered alongside the RNG's evolving foreign policy, this study will offer a more dynamic account of an important aspect of the occupation and how it fits into the broader context of modern Chinese history.