[EDITORIALS]Japan’s historical distortions

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[EDITORIALS]Japan’s historical distortions

The Japanese government yesterday announced that it has authorized disputed textbooks for use in the country’s middle schools. According to Korean experts who’ve analyzed them, these textbooks allege that Japan ruled the southern part of Korea during the fourth and fifth centuries; that Korea was once part of China; that Japan’s invasion of Korea in 1592 was not a war of aggression, but a mere “advance”; and that Japan’s occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945 contributed to the modernization of Korea. There are some signs of improvement in the new textbooks, compared to some of their predecessors, but they still cleverly distort history, according to these experts.
The textbook from the publisher Fusosha, in particular, contains many passages that praise Japanese militarism, reflecting the viewpoint of the country’s right wing. Omitted is any mention of imperial Japan’s use of Korean women as sex slaves, or of Korean men being forced to labor for the Japanese war effort. These are distortions of history, and distortions of the education of Japan’s youth.
Furthermore, not only the Fusosha textbook but those produced by Tokyo Publishing and Osaka Publishing this year say that the Dokdo islands are Japanese territory. Indeed, where the Dokdo issue is concerned, this year’s textbooks represent a change for the worse.
We are compelled to protest. We have no choice but to join conscientious people in Japan and the world in campaigning against the use of these distorted history textbooks in Japanese schools.
It is not desirable that conflicts should arise between Korea and Japan, which only recently spoke of greeting the future, hand in hand, in the name of Northeast Asian peace and prosperity. We truly regret that our relationship has faced unexpected obstacles because of these historical issues. We understand that most Japanese people want peace and friendship and do not agree with these distortions. Likewise, the Korean people want cooperation.
The problem is that the current conflict is being magnified and multiplied by Japan’s actions. The followers of militarism, who are only a very small portion of the Japanese population, are using nationalistic sentiments for domestic political purposes. Japan’s civil society and its voices of conscience should see the reality of the situation and make efforts to resolve the problem.
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