Abe does it again

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Abe does it again

Tokyo has again shown itself to be Janus-faced. After feigning reconciliatory gestures to improve its reputation on the international stage, it carries on with totally antagonizing behavior that jeopardizes relations with its neighbors.

Tokyo approved revised elementary school textbooks claiming that Seoul is illegally occupying Japan’s Takeshima islets in the East Sea. That’s what the Japanese call Dokdo. We cannot have trust in anything Japan does and says if it continues to attempt to whitewash its past and distort historical facts for future generations through schools and their textbooks.

The bilateral relationship will remain on thin ice as long as Japan maintains such an unrepentant attitude toward history and does not end its fork-tongued practices.

The Japanese government authorized four social studies textbooks for fifth and sixth grades that include maps labeling Dokdo by the Japanese name Takeshima with explanations that the islets are being illegally claimed and occupied by Seoul. Of five social studies textbooks in use since 2010, only one specifically mentioned the Dokdo dispute.

The remaining four include Dokdo within the territorial lines of Japan.

In its Diplomatic Bluebook for 2014, Japan claimed that the government has made sincere efforts to address issues related to Japan’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World Word II.

The authorization of the controversial school textbooks exposes the real intention of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the sovereignty claim over Dokdo.

The new textbooks reflect the administrative guidelines claiming Dokdo as Japan’s and condemning Korea’s illegal occupation. Right-wing politicians are teaching young students to grow up bearing hostility to South Korea - which it colonized - with the notion that they must one day reclaim their territory.

Japan may be crossing the Rubicon and putting Korea-Japan relationship beyond repair. All the friendly words Prime Minister Abe employed during a threeway meeting with President Park Geun-hye and U.S. President Barack Obama in The Hague last month can be dismissed after the renewed textbook provocation. Seoul must protest strongly and decisively Tokyo’s provocative actions. But most of all, Tokyo must prove if it sincerely desires to improve bilateral ties.

JoongAng Ilbo, April 5, Page 30

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