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Guest lecture by Christopher Gerteis

Jul 10, 2018

On July 12, at 4 pm, Dr. Christopher Gerteis from SOAS University of London gave a lecture on "Motorboats and Morals Education: Philanthropy, Education and the Cold War in Japan." Gerteis is a DAAD visting professor at the HCTS with the Professorship of Cultural Economic History.

The lecture examined how Sasakawa Ryōichi used his philanthropic gambling empire to reshape the social conscience of young people and promote the re-introduction of morals education for Japanese youth. Abandoning earlier attempts to directly influence the ‘Sixties Generation’ by the early 1970s, Sasakawa was instead deeply invested in efforts to focus on children under the age of fifteen. Funding from the Sasakawa network of philanthropic institutions helped build privately funded moral education programs, which aimed at fostering a stronger sense of Japanese identity similar to that instilled by the shūshin (neo-Confucian moral education) curriculum that had underpinned the wartime state’s total mobilization in the 1930s and 1940s.

Shūshin had been banned from the national curriculum by the Allied Occupation in 1945. However, by the early 1970s the call for the redaction of many such reforms had gained steady support despite vocal opposition from teachers and parents. The lecture will narrate how Sasakawa put his philanthropic empire behind the effort to promote moral education for children not seen in state schools since 1945 through privately funded television programming.

Dr. Christopher Gerteis is a HCTS visiting professor with the Professorship of Cultural Economic History from June to August 2018. He is a historian from the SOAS University of London, where he specialises in the history of modern and contemporary Japan. At SOAS, he lectures on East Asian history, early modern and modern Japanese history, and the history of violence in East Asia.


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  • "Motorboats and Morals Education: Philanthropy, Education and the Cold War in Japan"

  • Dr. Christopher Gerteis