Endless historical distortion
New government-endorsed Japanese middle school history textbooks included Tokyo’s claim over the Dokdo islets, thus accusing South Koreans of illegally occupying its territory. Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced the results of its review of textbooks that can be used nationwide from spring 2016. Tokyo’s claim, previously restricted to geography and social science textbooks, was also included in history books. Of the 18 publications, 13 accused Seoul of illegally occupying the territory. Students will grow up thinking South Korea as “bad,” having learned it during middle school. Japan should be ashamed of distorting history and brainwashing children.
It is regretful that Japan is wasting momentum to improve bilateral ties during a time the two countries can jointly celebrate the 50th anniversary of normalization of diplomatic relations, and the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule. Seoul has implied that bilateral ties can be normalized if Tokyo sincerely apologizes for pain caused to comfort women mobilized to serve in Japanese military brothels during World War II. South Korea arranged a trilateral summit meeting between leaders from Korea, China, and Japan during the last foreign ministerial meeting. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed appreciation only recently to his Korean counterpart Park Geun-hye. And yet, he throws such provocations at Seoul. We can only question Tokyo’s real intentions.
Korea must be stern and cool-headed over the issue. It must continue raising awareness for Korea’s sovereign rights over the islets without turning the area into a conflict zone. Regardless of what the conservative Japanese and their textbooks say, the Dokdo islets are legitimately ours and Japanese authorities must stop lying to future generations.
A new medical history museum in Fukuoka, Japan, located at Kyushu University, held an exhibition with items related to the infamous live dissections of American prisoners during World War II. The university broke its long silence on the gruesome experiments, as professors decided to speak about the once-tabooed part of Japanese history.
Regardless of the Abe government’s revisionist endeavors, more and more civilians are stepping up to tell the truth. More than half of the Japanese people believe Abe must apologize for war aggressions in the speech commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Japan must stop disappointing its own people and angering its neighbours, and set the record straight for the greater future of East Asia.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 7, Page 34