Japan claims Dokdo again in textbook guidelines

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Japan claims Dokdo again in textbook guidelines

Tokyo revealed its revised curriculum guidelines for elementary and middle school textbooks on Tuesday, which claim Dokdo, Korea’s easternmost islets, as Japan’s territory, a move immediately protested by Seoul.

The Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology claims in the new draft guidelines that Dokdo in the East Sea, known as Takeshima in Japanese, and the Senkaku Islands, known as Diaoyu in Chinese, are inherent parts of Japanese territory.

While Japanese elementary and middle school social studies textbooks already contain descriptions of Dokdo, this latest move is being interpreted in Seoul as an intensifying of its territorial claims.

This is the first time the legally-binding guideline, which serves as a guide for the production of textbooks and curriculum manuals for Japanese schools, have explicitly advised to teach sovereignty claims over Dokdo.

Japan’s middle school guidelines released in 2008 included for the first time mention that there are different arguments concerning Dokdo between Tokyo and Seoul. At that time, then Korean Ambassador to Tokyo Kwon Chul-hyun was temporarily recalled to Seoul in protest.

The Japanese government will gather public feedback over the next month and is expected to announce the final version of the textbook guidelines as early as March.

These guidelines are generally revised every 10 years or so, and the elementary and middle school manuals were last revised in March 2008.

The high school textbook guidelines were last revised in 2009.

The guidelines will be applied to elementary school textbooks from 2020 and to middle school textbooks books from 2021.

The hawkish Shinzo Abe administration has pushed to renew Tokyo’s territorial claims, and in 2014 the Japanese government authorized middle school textbooks purporting Seoul is “illegally occupying” Dokdo.

Korea maintains that Dokdo is clearly an integral part of Korea territory historically, geographically and under international law.

The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday afternoon summoned Hideo Suzuki, a minister at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, to lodge a formal complaint over the latest textbook guidelines revision with claims over Dokdo.

The ministry spokesman said the revision to the guidelines will “not only indoctrinate Japan’s growing future generation on territorial ideas but have a negative impact on the development of Korea and Japan’s future-oriented relations.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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