Japan approves more textbooks claiming Dokdo

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Japan approves more textbooks claiming Dokdo

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27일 검정을 통과한 일본 사회 교과서. 독도를 일본 땅으로 기술하고 있다.

TOKYO - Japan yesterday approved 21 school textbooks that detail its territorial claims over the disputed Dokdo islets, bringing up the sensitive diplomatic issue once again.

Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology yesterday announced its results of inspections into 39 school textbooks, including 21 claiming sovereignty of the Dokdo islets, known as the Takeshima islands in Japan, in an official announcement.

At first, only 18 of 39 textbooks - history, geography, sociology and politics - included the claim to the islands, but the ministry ordered an additional three to follow the move, according to the ministry. The books will be used starting from the spring semester of next year.

Including those used from 2013 and 2014, the number of Japanese school textbooks containing the claims reaches up to 47, occupying 45.6 percentage of the entire 103 textbooks regarding history and sociology in the country.

“From primary to high school textbooks, they all strengthened Japan’s territorial claims,” Dawara Yoshihumi, a textbook inspector for the ministry said.

In 2009, Japan ordered publishers to increase its territorial claims over the islets in their textbooks. Currently, the teachers’ guideline issued by the Japanese ministry gives clear instructions to students about strengthening Japan’s control over most territorial disputes.

In this sense, although not all of the Japanese textbooks say the islets belong to them, speculation is rising that it’s a matter of time until they all follow the move.

The two publishing companies - Jiyusha and Ikuhosha - which are notorious among Koreans for publishing textbooks last year containing statements that South Korea is illegally occupying Dokdo, didn’t apply for the ministry’s inspection this time. They are reportedly focusing on writing new textbooks for middle schools as members of a local association dubbed “A group to make new history textbooks.”

According to diplomatic sources, the Japanese government is expected to reiterate its territorial claim over Dokdo next month by including the islets in its report for foreign affairs.

Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade lambasted Japan’s official approval for the whitewashed textbooks.

“We strongly protest the Japanese government’s approval of high school textbooks rationalizing and distorting a wrong view of history,” the ministry’s spokesman said in a statement yesterday. “We demand a fundamental revision on this.”

“Especially, our government expresses deep disappointment and concerns about the fact that those newly-passed textbooks include Japan’s claims over our own territory Dokdo, which is obviously recognized by history, geography and international law,” the statement continued. “As the Japanese government has constantly declared its determination to ‘directly face history and develop a future-oriented Korea-Japan companionship,’ we once again emphasize that Japan should carry out this desire with sincere action.”


By Kim Hyun-ki, Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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