South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki- moon on Tuesday expressed regret over Japan's approval of new editions of history textbooks, saying they whitewash Japan's past wartime history.
"It is regrettable that the school textbooks are not sufficient in terms of (portraying) the overall historical truth," Ban was quoted as saying by South Korean Yonhap News Agency.
He said South Korea will not be able to cooperate with Japan on the future of Northeast Asia "if Japan does not look squarely at the reality."
Ban made the remarks hours after Japanese Education Ministry authorized several kinds of history textbooks which will be adopted by Japanese middle schools next year.
The South Korean Foreign Minister issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the Japanese Education Ministry's textbooks for distorting history.
"Our government expresses regret that some of the authorized Japanese textbooks...still include contents that justify and beautify (Japan's) past wrongdoing," the statement said.
South Korean political parties also expressed their anger over the authorization, saying Japan's move to distort history represents a serious challenge to regional peace.
Scores of South Korean civic groups held demonstrations in several South Korean cities earlier in the day to express their anger.
The new textbook is understood to carry a picture of the disputed Dokdo islets with the caption that South Korea is " illegally occupying" the islets and said the islets were historically and legally Japanese territory.
South Korea insists the Dokdo islets, now under control of South Korea, has been listed as its territory since the fifth century.
The ties between South Korea and Japan have been plagued by sovereignty quarrels over Dokdo and now by the school textbooks issue.