중앙데일리

Seoul hits Tokyo’s new Dokdo stance

Dec 26,2009
Dispute over Dokdo islets was reignited yesterday after the Japanese government unveiled its new high school curriculum guidelines for use from the 2013 academic year that imply the controversial islets in the East Sea belong to Japan.

Korea’s Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan summoned Toshinori Shigeie, Japanese ambassador to Korea, around 4:30 p.m. to deliver regrets over Japan’s move, said the ministry. The Korean government took the same measure in July of last year after Japan moved to teach its students Japan’s sovereignty over the islets.

Yu noted that it is feared that Japan will negatively influence the future-oriented development of bilateral relations by giving the wrong impression about sovereignty to a new generation of leaders, according to the ministry spokesman. Shigeie answered he will deliver Korea’s position over the issue.

Earlier in the day, Korea’s Foreign Ministry only released its stance on the matter in the form of a commentary by its spokesman, not an official statement. Its spokesman said, “We are reiterating our position that no territorial issue exists between Korea and Japan, regardless of what the Japanese government claims.”

But the situation worsened after news reports that Japanese education minister Tatsuo Kawabata reportedly insisted in a press conference, “There is no change in the fact that [Takeshima] is our territory ... Our country is responsible for its own education.”

Kyodo News reported that Japanese Cabinet ministers “denied there was a shift in the government’s stance or that the change stems from consideration for South Korea.” Korea’s diplomatic community closely monitors Japanese textbooks on the issue.

The Japanese government’s revised manual reads: “Regarding impending territory disputes that our country is faced with, including one concerning the Northern Territories, they are to be dealt with correctly based on what our country is squarely claiming on the basis of middle school studies.” Although the phrase doesn’t mention Dokdo, which Japan refers to as Takeshima, the islets are apparently included.

The phrasing “on the basis of middle school studies” has been newly included in the guidebook. In July of last year the Japanese government revised the social science subject handbook for middle school teachers. The book says: “That there is a difference of understanding between our country [Japan] and Korea over Takeshima should be mentioned [to students].”

Immediately after the move, Korea’s Foreign Minister Yu summoned the same Japanese ambassador here to lodge a strong protest against its decision to claim sovereignty. Japan had before omitted any description of Dokdo to avoid fanning the controversy.


By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]




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