Tokyo's Controversial Textbooks Anger Seoul
Tokyo's Controversial Textbooks Anger Seoul
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  • 승인 2004.09.01 12:01
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Tokyo's Controversial Textbooks Anger Seoul

Seoul is facing yet another istory battle" with a neighbor this time with Tokyo after barely having patched up its diplomatic row with Beijing earlier this week over China distortions of the history of the ancient kingdom of Koguryo. The Tokyo metropolitan board of education adopted a controversial history textbook for use at Hakuo High School, which will become the first metropolitan state-run six-year secondary school next April.

A Japanese right-wing group, which published a history textbook in 2001 that glossed over the atrocities committed by imperial Japan in Asia, has petitioned the education authorities for permission to publish a new edition. The Tokyo education board has adopted the textbook, from which some of Japan past brutalities were even entirely deleted.

South Korea Foreign Affairs Trade Ministry expressed regret over the latest development in its spokesman statement, suggesting the move could pour cold water on efforts to improve the relationship between the two countries.

"The Seoul government expresses regret that the Tokyo educational board adopted the textbook, which justifies past wrongdoings," it said. "Japan should face up to its past and make more efforts to correct past history."

The textbook fails to mention the Korean women forced by Japan to serve as sex slaves for its military and includes many controversial descriptions of past events, including of the Nanjing Massacre the mass killing and rape of Chinese from December 1937 to January 1938 after Japan captured the city.

Its earlier version, published in 2001, sparked heated disputes in neighboring nations, including China and South Korea, though it was adopted by only 0.04 percent of Japanese junior high schools at the time.

The 2001 textbook, for example, said: "The Tokyo Court admitted that when the Japanese army occupied Nanjing, large numbers of Chinese civilians were killed." But the new revision even deleted this acknowledgement. One of its authors said the Nanjing event was "a lie that was fabricated to condemn Japan."

In addition, the revised version alleged that the occupation of Korea helped its modernization and stabilized East Asia, deliberately avoiding any mention of the suffering of the so-called comfort women.

Ahead of its adoption yesterday, a number of Japanese civil activists and other citizens, including the widow of a former prime minister and other graduates from the prestigious Hakuo High School, urged the Tokyo education board not to adopt it. he textbook, which does not even refer to the issue of 'comfort women' is not appropriate for Hakuo, a school that has been supported by women" Mutsuko Miki, the wife of late Prime Minister Takeo Miki, was quoted as saying by the Kyodo News Agency.

Japan Yomiuri Shimbun reported in its Thursday edition that Tokyo plans to step up diplomatic efforts next year to make a stronger case for its ownership of Tokto, South Korea easternmost islets, and for its claim that the "East Sea" lying between the two countries should be referred to by the name it has in Japan the "Sea of Japan."

According to the newspaper, Japan Foreign Ministry asked for a 780-million-yen ($7 million) budget for those efforts. The move is part of the ministry decision to place top priority in policy on protecting its ational interests," the paper said.

Other measures under consideration include increased efforts in resource exploration in the East China Sea, a move that could lead to a territorial dispute with China. The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry requested 10 billion yen for the exploration projects, three times as much as the amount for this year.

It is feared that Japan putting these plans into action might fuel diplomatic tensions in Northeast Asia.

The Korean islets, Tokto, are located about midway between the two countries. The sea around Tokto contains rich fishing grounds. In Japan, the islets are known as Takeshima.

Since 1954, the South Korean Coast Guard has been stationed there as a symbol of Seoul's ownership, but Japan has often asserted its claim to the islets. There has also a heated diplomatic competition between South Korea and Japan over the name of the sea between the two countries, which is known in Korea as the ast Sea" and in Japan as the "Sea of Japan."

Thanks to Seoul's diplomatic efforts, a growing number of countries and international organizations have been adopting the Korean version of the name or marking both names on their maps.

Tokyo plans to increase its diplomatic campaign next year to try to win over foreign countries regarding the issue.

/ By The Korea Times


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