[EDITORIALS]More distorted history in Japan

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[EDITORIALS]More distorted history in Japan

Once again, textbooks to be authorized by the Japanese Ministry of Education have distorted history. Manuscripts for history and social life middle-school textbooks that were submitted to the Education Ministry by Fusosha have created controversy for depicting relations between Korea and Japan in ways that depart from the facts. The social life textbook states that Takeshima, as the Japanese call the Tokto islets, is Japanese territory under international law. This is another violation of our territorial rights, coming soon after the Shimane prefecture’s adoption of “Takeshima Day.” This second wave of textbook turmoil surprised our government and cast a shadow over the “Korea-Japan Friendship Year,” designated to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Fusosha is a publishing house supported by an ultra-rightist group called the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform. The company caused similar problems in 2001, publishing a history textbook that whitewashed imperial Japan’s invasion of its neighbors. This year it has stirred an even bigger controversy by inserting justifications of Japanese colonial rule in its social life textbook, which deals with democratic values. The textbook’s omission of the fact that Japan forced Koreans into hard labor and sex slavery, while stating that its rule contributed to Korean modernization, amounts to an erasure of history that goes beyond distortion.
What is important is that because of the support of ultra-rightists, these textbooks have a better chance of being used in schools than the 2001 editions did. If Fusosha textbooks are adopted by more schools, in line with the rightward trend in Japan, relations between Korea and Japan will not move an inch, because they are tied to the dark years of the past. It is proper, therefore, that civic groups and academics in both countries decide on joint action in criticizing these textbooks and trying to prevent their use in schools.
It still remains for the Fusosha textbooks to be inspected and authorized by the Japanese Ministry of Education before they are put on the market. Japanese and Korean historians and civic groups are demanding that the government correct the errors and the arrogance, in the textbooks and restore a balanced historical view. We call upon the Japanese government to make an honorable decision in the eyes of the international community.
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