S. Korea condemns Japanese history textbooks as justifying imperialist past

The South Korean government expressed anger on Tuesday over the newly authorized Japanese history textbooks, labeling them as "justifying and beautifying" Japan's imperialist past.

"Our government expresses regret that some of the authorized Japanese textbooks ... still include contents that justify and beautify (Japan's) past wrongdoing," South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Lee Kyu-hyung said in a statement carried on the ministry 's website.

"The government calls once again for Japan's efforts to correct this," Lee said.

The statement came shortly after the Japanese Education Ministry announced the authorization of several kinds of history textbooks which will be adopted by Japanese middle schools from next year.

Lee also lashed out at citizenship textbooks that have newly incorporated or reinforced Japan's claim to Dokdo, a chain of disputed rocky islets located in the East Sea (Sea of Japan).

"Japan's claim to Dokdo amounts to an attempt to justify its colonial invasion and to deny the history of our liberation," he said, adding, "The (South Korean) government would deal sternly with the Dokdo issue in the future."

According to local media, South Korea is to convene an emergency meeting of an inter-ministerial task force on the textbook issue to discuss countermeasures.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry also plans to call in Japan's Ambassador to Seoul Toshiyuki Takano while sending its ambassador to Tokyo, Ra Jong-il, to Japan's Foreign Ministry to lodge an official complaint.

Drawing the most criticism are new history and citizenship textbooks from Fusosha Publishing Co., which is closely linked with an association of right-wing nationalist scholars.

Despite marginal improvements, the new textbooks still attempt to justify Japanese imperialism in Asia, whitewash its wartime atrocities and slight the histories of its neighboring countries.

The "Fusosha" history textbook, named after its publisher, was a target of condemnation in South Korea for attempting to whitewash Japan's colonial-era brutalities when it was first published in 2001.

This time, the Fusosha citizenship textbook has added a picture of Dokdo with a caption that says South Korea is "illegally occupying" the islets in addition to a text description that the rocky islets are historically and legally Japanese territory.

Two other new citizenship textbooks also newly include Japan's claim to the islets. A new geography textbook contains the claim as well.

South Korea insists that Dokdo has been listed as its territory in history literature since the fifth century. Now, the disputed rocky islets are under effectual control of South Korea which has deployed a garrison of coast police on the islets since 1954.

Japan also claims that the islets, called "Takeshima" in Japan, have been its territory since the 17th century, as written in literature.

Japan's Shimane Prefecture Council on March 16 approved an ordinance to designate every Feb. 22 as "Takeshima Day" so as to promote public awareness of Japan's claim to the islets.

South Korea and Japan have been at odds due to the sovereignty quarrels over Dokdo and the school textbooks.

Source: Xinhua

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