Japan texts claim Dokdo; Seoul summons envoy

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Japan texts claim Dokdo; Seoul summons envoy

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Some of the textbooks approved by Japan yesterday. [YONHAP]

The Japanese government yesterday approved new textbooks for middle school students that strengthened the wording of its sovereignty claim over Dokdo, angering Seoul and throwing a spanner into relations that had warmed considerably since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami with Korea’s sympathy and aid to the stricken nation.

Seoul yesterday summoned the top Japanese envoy to protest the new textbooks.

The largest Japanese textbook publisher joined smaller companies to include more assertive claims over Dokdo in the new school texts.

Yesterday, Japan’s education ministry said it has adopted 18 textbooks - geography books from four publishers, history books from seven and civic textbooks from another seven - for use at public middle schools. Some claim Dokdo, which the Japanese call Takeshima, in a more obvious way than in previous teaching materials.

Tokyo Shoseki, which publishes 50 percent of Japan’s middle school social studies textbooks, featured Dokdo in maps in its previous geography book, but the new geography book edition also describes it in the book’s text.

“Takeshima is Japan’s territory,” reads a new Tokyo Shoseki textbook, according to Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. “Korea is illegally occupying the island, so we are continuously protesting to the Korean government about it.”

Other new books, including some published by Kyoiku-Shuppan, mention the “illegal occupation” of Dokdo by Korea. Previously, only Jiyusha publishing house, a right-leaning company with a small market share, used the term in reference to Dokdo and Korea.

One of the new history textbooks contained the sovereignty claim over Dokdo, while previously approved history books did not.

The textbooks will go into use at the beginning of April 2012 at schools that decide to use them. Which Japanese education wards are adopting the new texts will be decided by August.

The Korean government is concerned the textbook authorization will open a flood gate for more assertive claims over Dokdo from the Japanese government later. Tokyo is expected to mention Dokdo in a diplomatic blue book to be released early next month and in a defense white book in July, according to Seoul officials.

Seoul said it regards the textbooks’ claims a serious challenge to Korea’s sovereignty and will sternly deal with it.

After Japan’s announcement, Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan summoned Japanese Ambassador Masatoshi Muto late yesterday to convey a message of complaint.

“The Korean government strongly protests against the Japanese government,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Byung-je told a media briefing yesterday, “for including middle school textbooks that claim Dokdo as Japanese territory, but is manifestly our territory historically and geographically and according to international law.” Cho said the government is urging Japan to correct the books immediately.

The contentious issue of Dokdo, tiny islets comprised of about 33 rocks, is a by-product of Japan’s 35-year colonial rule of Korea that continually flares and sours relations between the countries. Korea has controlled the islets, except during the 1910-45 colonial rule by Japan, and has stationed the Coast Guard there since 1954.

Over the years, Japan has escalated claims to ownership of the islets, which are located slightly closer to Korea than to Japan. Dokdo is about 215 kilometers (134 miles) away from Korea’s east coast, and 250 kilometers from Japan.

The two countries clashed over the issue in July 2008 when the Japanese government announced new teaching guidelines for middle school students that cited Dokdo as Japan’s Takeshima. A claim over Dokdo was not mentioned in previous teaching guidelines.

The guidelines, used as references by teachers at public middle schools and by publishers, were the basis for the textbooks authorized yesterday.

The latest textbook claim came after Seoul’s humanitarian aid for the March 11 earthquake and tsunami thawed bilateral relations with Japan.

“We doubt the sincerity of the promise by Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to look straight at historical facts and have the humility to acknowledge them,” said an official of Seoul’s Foreign Ministry, referring to Kan’s August 2010 apology for Japan’s colonial rule.

According to diplomatic analysts, Kan is reluctant to back down on the territorial issue with Korea after watching his popularity slide over other territorial spats with China (over the Senkaku Islands) in September and with Russia (the Kurile Islands) in November.

“Japanese government officials said they were not allowed to make their voices heard in the text review process,” said a Seoul diplomatic source.

The review was led by an advisory committee of Japan’s education ministry, comprised of 24 college professors, four primary and secondary school principals, one official of the Japan Science Technology Agency and one official of the National Science Museum.

The Korean public and local governments also reacted negatively to Japan’s new textbooks.

City and provincial leaders across Korea issued a joint statement yesterday to express “anger toward Japan for systemically distorting facts in textbooks and unveiling bluntly its scheme to plunder Dokdo even while suffering an enormous affliction, such as a huge earthquake, tsunami and radiation leak.”

The 23 education chiefs in North Gyeongsang, which has control over Dokdo, agreed yesterday to an on-site education program for students to bring them to the islets.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
일 문부성 ‘독도는 일본땅 ’ 교과서 12종 통과 파문
16개 시·도 교육감 “일 정부, 국민에게 거짓 없이 역사 알려라”

경상북도 교육청 관계자들이 30일 독도를 배경으로 평화호 선상에서 일본 규탄 집회를 하고 있다. 이들은 독도 방문을 시도했으나 궂은 날씨와 높은 파도로 인해 독도에 오르지는 못했다. [경상북도 교육청 제공]

“일본의 독도 영유권 주장은 반(反)역사적 행위이자 대한민국 주권과 영토권에 대한 침탈 행위이며, 나아가 동북아시아의 평화를 무시하고 위협하려는 철저히 의도된 만행이다.”(전국 16개 시·도 교육감 공동결의문 중) 일본 문부과학성이 독도 영유권 주장을 기술한 중학교 사회교과서 12종의 검정을 통과시킨 30일 한국 사회는 거센 반발로 들끓었다.

전국 16개 시·도 교육감들은 이날 공동결의문에서 “일본의 이번 결정은 한·일 양국의 미래지향적 관계 형성을 위한 우리의 우호적인 정책에 대한 배신행위로서 규탄받아 마땅하다”고 지적했다. 이들은 일본 정부에 독도에 관한 역사적 사실을 거짓 없이 자국 국민에게 알리고 교육할 것을 촉구했다. 또 독도가 명백한 대한민국 영토라는 사실을 교육하는 데 전력을 다할 것을 결의했다.

 전국 시·도지사들도 일본의 교과서 왜곡에 강력히 대응하기로 했다. 시·도지사들은 이날 독도를 관할하는 경상북도의 김관용 지사가 발표한 공동성명서를 통해 “일본 정부는 대지진과 원전 사고 등으로 시련을 겪는 가운데 교과서를 왜곡하고 독도 침탈 야욕을 노골적으로 드러냈다”며 “일본이 역사 왜곡을 시정하고 세계 평화를 위한 공동 노력에 동참할 것을 촉구한다”고 밝혔다. 우리 정부에는 “역사 왜곡 재발 방지를 위한 실효적 조치를 강구하라”고 주문했다.

 독도수호전국연대와 아시아평화와역사교육연대는 각각 이날 오전과 오후 서울 종로구 주한 일본대사관 앞에서 기자회견을 하고 일본의 이번 결정을 규탄했다. 매주 수요일 이곳에서 집회를 열어온 한국정신대문제대책협의회도 이날 규탄 성명을 발표하고 이를 일본대사관에 전달했다.


 사이버 외교사절단 반크는 일본의 교과서 왜곡을 ‘21세기 신(新)정한론’으로 규정한 뒤 “일본 학생들에게 한국에 대한 적개심을 심어주는 것”이라고 강하게 비판했다. ‘정한론’은 1870년대를 전후해 일본 정계에서 대두된 한국 공략론이다. 정재정 동북아역사재단 이사장은 “일본은 주변 국가들과의 역사 갈등을 극복하겠다는 약속을 무시한 검정 결과를 발표함으로써 모처럼 조성된 한·일 우호협력의 분위기를 해치고 있다”고 지적했다. 정 이사장은 “일본 정부는 검정 결과 발표를 철회하고 공동 역사교과서 제작 등 전향적 조치를 취해야 할 것”이라고 말했다.

◆일본 시민단체도 반대 기자회견=일본의 40개 시민단체는 이날 문부과학성에서 기자회견을 하고 “역사 왜곡과 침략전쟁을 미화하는 ‘부적절한 교과서’를 아이들 손에 쥐어주지 않기 위해 교과서 채택 저지 투쟁을 벌이겠다”고 밝혔다. ‘어린이와 교과서전국네트워크21’의 다와라 요시후미(俵義文) 사무국장은 “우익 후소샤와 새로운 교과서를 만드는 모임이 의도적으로 반한(反韓) 캠페인을 전개하는 것”이라고 비난했다. 그는 “이번에 검정을 통과한 교과서들은 일 정부가 이들 국제공약으로 밝힌 침략전쟁 포기 등의 약속을 위반한 내용을 담았다”며 “오는 8월까지 전국 일선 학교와 지자체를 돌며 이들 교과서가 채택되지 않도록 캠페인을 벌이겠다”고 했다.

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