[EDITORIAL] No More Distortions of History

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[EDITORIAL] No More Distortions of History

The decision to take a strong stand at the government level against distortions of history in Japanese textbooks comes a bit late, but it is to be commended. Since the textbook in question has not yet been officially authorized, we should mobilize all diplomatic forces available to us to see that the distorted passages are amended.

If a textbook that attempts to justify the atrocities of Japan's occupation of Korea and its invasion of the Asian continent is approved and the historical distortion becomes a fait accompli, it will obviously have a detrimental effect on the hard-won improvements in relations between our two countries. Yet, until now the government has avoided confronting the issue straight on out of fear of being accused of meddling in another nation's internal affairs.

Now, in a policy meeting held by Prime Minister Lee Han-dong with relevant ministers, the government has decided to file a strong protest with the Japanese government. It is said that if the Japanese attitude is unresponsive, our government will consider postponing the bilateral ministerial-level talks scheduled for March 15. President Kim Dae-jung has decided to mention this issue in his Independence Day commemorative address today. The administration will also look into ways of taking joint action with the governments of North Korea and China.

These are appropriate measures to take, and the National Assembly resolution demanding a stop to such distortions is also timely. The legislators' call for a delay on any further lifting of the ban on Japanese cultural imports and the reduction of the Korea-Japan youth exchange program also provide leverage. It is important to show the Japanese just how strongly all Koreans feel about this issue by getting academic organizations and citizens' groups involved as well. Japan seems to jump at every chance to twist history in its favor, and we must take this opportunity to show them clearly and resolutely how unacceptable this sort of foolishness is so that they will not repeat it. The government should also try to find out the truth about other past Japanese atrocities that have been coming to light of late. Of particular interest is a diary written by an American female missionary active in Korea at the time of the March 1 Independence Movement. In it she wrote of the massacre of dozens of people at churches in Jeam-ri, Hwaseong-gun, Kyonggi province, and at five other churches in 16 villages. This must not be passed over but should be investigated so that the whole truth can be recorded.
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