[EDITORIALS]Japan Must Acknowledge Its Past

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[EDITORIALS]Japan Must Acknowledge Its Past

We cannot help but feel pity for Japan for still being fettered by its own history and for authorizing middle school history textbooks with distorted facts for use in 2002, as announced by the Japanese government Tuesday. We have consistently proclaimed that Korea-Japan relations should be focused on the future rather than the past. However, the authorization of distorted history books is today's issue, as it presents the past recorded in history and the education of today's Japanese youth. If Japan itself obstinately clings to the past rather than looking to the present and the future, will neighboring countries be able to maintain a forward-looking approach?

If historical facts are fabricated, distorted, exaggerated, reduced or embellished and deleted, it is denying history its instructive function and using it as a harmful tool. Description of history related to neighboring countries must be all the more scrupulously examined precisely because it can benefit both the present and the future. Wasn't it for this reason that the Japanese government presented "international consideration" as one of its authorization criteria?

Nonetheless, the endorsed textbooks still contain distorted, reduced, exaggerated, embellished and deleted historical facts, arousing our and China's anger and protest. Of course, the Japanese government did show efforts to have some parts revised in the books submitted for examination by eight publishers. However, the revisions overall accentuate the inevitability of Japanese annexation of Korea and suggest that Japanese colonization contributed to Korea's modernization, covering up Japan's illegal invasion and its exploitative colonial policies.

The description of Japan's military "comfort stations" that have been branded by United Nations resolution as an anti-humanitarian criminal act, calls us to seriously question Japan's morality, sense of justice and conscience. Although six of the existing textbooks dealt with the issue briefly, five of the eight revised textbooks do not even mention it. The rest of the books completely distort sexual slavery as "Korean women were sent to work in factories." Forced labor and the attempted policy of subjugating Koreans to the Japanese emperor were also reduced and distorted, explicitly reflecting recent nationalist trends in Japan that are attempting to whitewash its wrongdoings. Even if improved from the initial drafts, the textbooks still maintain an imperialist tone and gravely distort Japan's relations with Korea and China.

We are demanding that Japan take responsibility for its past, not to condemn Japan for its sins, but because we wish today's Korea and Japan to learn from their past and live in peace and prosperity. We believe most reasonable Japanese want to clear the tainted history of the 20th century, during which Japan mercilessly robbed the Southeast Asians of peace and life, in order to build a 21st century based on amicable relations and reciprocal equality with neighboring countries. If so, the Japanese government should take full responsibility and take more decisive measures against the extreme right wing movement to revive the past.

Although authorization has been granted upon examination of the textbooks, there is still room for corrections under the government's direction. The Japanese government should show its goodwill at the last moment. At the same time, reasonable people in the two countries should muster their strength to obstruct the adoption of the Fusosha textbook that contains the gravest distortions so that neighborly relations between the two countries will not be damaged.
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