First Advisor

Ken Ruoff

Term of Graduation

January 2023

Date of Publication


Document Type





China History, Education System, Japan History, Manchukuo, National Identity

Physical Description

1 online resource ( pages)


This thesis studies the education system and national identity of Manchukuo the nationstate (1932-1945). In September of 1932, the Japanese army staged the “Mukden Incident,” a bombing of a railway line near Shenyang that was used as a pretext for the invasion of Manchuria. Following the incident, the Japanese established the state of Manchukuo with the last emperor of China, Puyi, as its nominal head of state. The establishment of Manchukuo marked the beginning of Japan’s aggressive expansion in Asia and its militarization of the region. It also marked the start of Japan’s effective control over large portions of Northeast China, which lasted until the end of World War II.The body of the thesis consists of four interrelated parts. Against the backdrop of a Manchukuo that existed for less than twenty years, Chapter Two describes three distinct periods of change in the development of education in Manchukuo. These were differentiated by the audiences they served and the eventual need to prepare for war. As a result, such changes are revisited in Chapter Three through descriptions of textbooks, language, and curricula. Military education and Manchukuo Emperor Puyi’s role in education are also described. Chapter Four reveals the ultimate aims and objectives of education in Manchukuo through a description of the position of women in Manchukuo education, and the recollections of students during the Manchukuo period. The Manchukuo government underwent a series of changes and redefinitions after its establishment. This included a reorientation of self-recognition and education, as well as a convergence of old feudal dynastic ideas, traditional Chinese culture, Japanese government intervention, and Western ideas, resulting in collision, integration, change and confrontation. It all began in 1932, although the idea of establishing a regime in Manchuria had begun much earlier in Japan. The year 1932 resulted in the intensification of conflict between China and Japan that was the precursor of total war. Additionally, these developments impacted neighboring Russia, (colonized) Korea, and indeed the entire world.


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