Japan approves 3 more textbooks with Dokdo claim

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Japan approves 3 more textbooks with Dokdo claim

The Korean government yesterday strongly protested the results of a textbook screening in Japan that yielded more books laying claim to the disputed Dokdo islets.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan announced the results of the screening yesterday that examined books to be used in high schools. They deal with sensitive issues like Dokdo, referred to as Takeshima in Japan, and the enslavement of the so-called “comfort women” during the 1910-45 colonial period.

Out of 39 social science books submitted for review, the Japanese education ministry approved a total of 21 textbooks, of which 15 referred to the Dokdo islets. Of these, three had new material, Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

A Foreign Ministry official also stated that these textbooks contain new controversial language such as recommendations for a third-party mediator like the International Court of Justice to settle the Dokdo dispute.

The textbook says “there is a need to see a wider perspective by including a third-party mediator such as the UN Security Council or the International Court of Justice that can make a decision from an impartial perspective,” according to Korean officials.

“Our government strongly protests that the Japanese government on March 26 approved content that doesn’t match history and evades responsibility. We request a fundamental revision,” the Foreign Ministry stated yesterday as it lodged a complaint with a Japanese envoy.

The books will be used starting in April 2014 for four years after final approval by the Japanese government that should come in August at the latest.

The textbooks also referred to “Korea’s unilateral occupation” of Dokdo but did not use “illegal occupation,” a term that was disputed last year.

Nine textbooks refer to the “comfort woman” issue in various ways, including one that mentions Japanese recruitment of the women for soldiers.

“Once more, our government emphasizes that we will not tolerate Japan unjustly referring to our indigenous territory Dokdo as its territory,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Korea’s official position is that there is no territorial dispute over the islets and thus no reason to take the issue to a third party such as the International Court of Justice.

Relations with Japan reached a low after former President Lee Myung-bak visited the Dokdo islets, the first Korean leader to do so, last August.

Tokyo added more fuel to the fire by sending a vice minister to the annual Takeshima Day celebration in Shimane Prefecture on Feb. 22.

By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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