Education in Japan During the War
During World War II, the Japanese government attempted to indoctrinate Japanese children through education and propaganda. Both methods nationalized youth and encouraged them to support the war effort. Youth were expected to volunteer in factories and farms to replace the conscripted labor force. Leading up to World War II, Japanese schools became more militaristic and nationalistic. In 1940, elementary schools were renamed “Citizen’s Schools.” Textbooks became vivid, engaging, and militaristic picture-books. For science, teachers trained children in agriculture so they could better assist in food production for the nation. Youth helped raise war morale by sending comfort letters, drawings, and packages to soldiers. Some even participated in warfare by creating balloon bombs which would float over the Pacific and target the west coast of the United States.
Japan’s War-time Evacuation Schools
Another way indoctrination occurred was through the evacuation of Japanese elementary children in the Spring of 1944. The goal of this action was not only to protect children from air-raids, but also to make good Japanese citizens. In the makeshift countryside schools, Teachers asked children—who were isolated from their parents—to keep diaries to record their impressions while at the schools. Children were inspired by the things they learned and bonded with their teachers. When the military conscripted Nakane Mihoko’s teacher, Mihoko recalled that she was sad but had “happy feelings when [she] thought about Ishida-sensei’s going to war for the sake of the country.” Children were also trained in hand-to-hand combat and national values which consisted of putting the state above the individual. These schools were not only preparing children to be citizens, but soldiers.
Youth’s Response to Their Education
For the most part, children were compliant and embraced their education. Children had strong confidence in the strength of their country and national government during the war. Although Japanese youth could not be held responsible for the outbreak of World War II, for the most part, they believed the ideas that their parents, teachers, and leaders taught them. Sasaki Fumiko explains how she and other children bullied Korean children after the war was over. She then sorrowfully states, “The blank page of a child’s heart can be dyed any color…I recall the days when we chased Korean children, stones in hand, and my heart is pained.” Youth imitated the ideas that they learned both inside and outside of school, and over time, many who were youth when the war started became soldiers by the war’s end.
Some youth even joined the military as adolescents. As the Japanese forces were fleeing as the American forces arriving, one Filipino youth remembered seeing a Japanese soldier that appeared no more than fifteen years old. The soldier was weeping and crying out “Otosan” (father). The Filipino realized he was looking for a surrogate father to comfort him. She recounts, “Speechless, I pointed to my father. Where upon the young soldier staggered towards my father, fell on his knees and cried on my father’s lap. I held his head, for he was only a boy, and wept in pity.” Rather than a ruthless occupier, in this account he is first and foremost a youth.
 David C. Earhart, Certain Victory: Images of World War II in the Japanese Media, (New York: Routledge, 2008), 199.
 Earhart, Certain Victory, 188-191.
 Earhart, Certain Victory, 191.
 Takamizawa Sachiko, “When I Made Balloon Bombs,” in Sensō: The Japanese Remember the Pacific War: Letters to the Editor of Asahi Shimbun, ed. Frank Gibney and trans. Beth Cary (Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, 2007), 181-182. These balloon bombs were designed to float on the air currents over the Pacific and target West Coast and were relatively ineffective as only a small portion landed on U.S. soil. Less than ten people died from the bombs most of which did not even explode on impact.
 Samuel Hideo Yamashita, Daily Life in Wartime Japan, 1940- 1945 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2015), 61.
 Yamashita, Daily Life in Wartime Japan, 1940- 1945, 80.
 Yamashita, Daily Life in Wartime Japan, 1940- 1945, 85-88.
 Simon Partner, Toshié: A Story of Village Life in Twentieth Century Japan, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 80.
 Sasaki Fumiko, “Throwing Stones at Korean Children,” in Sensō,277.
 Helen Mendoza, “Looking Back: Day’s of War” Under Japanese Rule, 186-187.