Manipulated Museum History and Silenced Memories of Aggression: Historical Revisionism and Japanese Government Censorship of Peace Museums
Date of Award
The Japanese government has a vested interest in either avoiding discussion of its war-torn past or arguing for a revisionist take. The need to play up Japanese victimization over Japanese aggression during World War II has led to many museums having their exhibits censored or revised to fit this narrative goal. During the 1990’s, Japan’s national discourse was more open to discussions of war crimes and the damage caused by their aggression. This in turn led to the creation of many “peace museums” that are intended to discuss and confront this history as frankly as possible. At the beginning of the 21st century, public discourse turned against these museums and only private museums have avoided censorship. Some museums, like the Osaka International Peace Center, have been devastated by the censorship. This museum and other museums with similar narrative issues raise questions about appropriate narrative on display. What is appropriate to censor for the sake of respect for the dead? What must be included for the sake of historical accuracy and honesty about the past? These questions are investigated at four different peace museums throughout Japan.
Birdwhistell, Benjamin P., "Manipulated Museum History and Silenced Memories of Aggression: Historical Revisionism and Japanese Government Censorship of Peace Museums" (2017). University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. 2312.
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