The Russian Japanese project
The Russian-Japanese project was developed under the auspices, and with the active participation, of the Council of Europe from 1999-2001.
This work started with the seminar on “The teaching of history in multicultural societies and border areas”, organised in Khabarovsk in 1998, and during which the question was raised on how to teach history of neighbouring countries, including Japan.
Following a proposal from Japan, which is an observer in the Council of Europe, a follow-up meeting between historians from Russia and Japan was organised in St. Petersburg in 1999. For the first time, this meeting gave an opportunity to discuss the past, present and future of history teaching in these countries. More specifically, formal presentations and discussions focused on the way in which Japan is presented in history teaching in the Russian Federation and the way in which Russia is introduced in Japanese history curricula and textbooks. The discussions on theses topics were continued in Tokyo in 2000 and in Vladivostok in 2001.
The main partners of the Council of Europe in this project were in Russia the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation and in Japan the International Society for Educational Information (ISEI), a non-governmental body.
Discussions within this project raised a number of key questions such as:
- What are the main goals in teaching history in present-day schools?
- How can history be presented in a balanced way in textbooks?
Special emphasis was given to the role of history of fine arts and culture in school courses.
The recommendations of these meetings suggested a frequent use of examples from everyday life when teaching history which can in turn help to teach this subject in a more interesting and colourful way. A history course, which includes diverse information on culture and everyday life, provides an opportunity to teach more about human values, as well as creating positive images of countries, in particular, neighbouring states.
One of the outcomes of this project was the preparation of a supplementary teaching tool on the “History and Culture of Japan in Documents and in Illustrations”, prepared by history educators from the Russian Federation in cooperation with their Japanese colleagues, which was published in Vladivostok in 2001.