Seoul condemns Japan for history textbooks

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Seoul condemns Japan for history textbooks

Korea strongly condemned Japan on Tuesday for approving new elementary school textbooks with intensified claims to South Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged Japan to retract the measure, emphasizing that the islets in the East Sea belong to Korea.

“The government strongly condemns the Japanese government’s authorization of the elementary school textbooks, including its unjustifiable claim to Dokdo, which is clearly our indigenous territory by history, geography and international law,” its spokesman, Kim In-chul, said.

He added that Japan will have to “recognize that such textbooks will bring about a negative impact on the future-oriented development of relations between the two nations by cramming a wrong territorial notion based on false history perception into even elementary school students.”

Earlier in the day, Japan’s Education Ministry announced it would allow the country’s schools to use a dozen social studies textbooks made by three local publishers starting next year.

Tokyo’s Dokdo claim appears in nine of them for use by fourth to sixth graders.

In particular, those for fifth and six graders include stronger and more specific territorial assertions, coupled with added maps, photos and other visual materials, than previous ones approved in 2014.

Also inserted is what’s considered to be a politically charged expression that Japan is “continuously protesting against South Korea’s unlawful occupation” of Dokdo.

It’s a follow-up to the 2017 revision of teaching guidelines that describe Dokdo and the Kuril and Senkaku islands as Japan’s “indigenous” territory. Relevant detailed manuals say South Korea is “illegally occupying” Dokdo in the East Sea.

Some textbooks include apparent history distortions or descriptions seen as part of efforts to cover up historical facts.

Regarding Japan’s invasions of Korea from 1592-1598 called the Imjin war, a textbook for sixth grader textbook says it represented two dispatches by Toyotomi Hideyoshi of troops to Korea in order to conquer China.

In Korea and other neighboring countries, concern has grown about Abe’s political views. Many critics regard him as taking a nationalistic or ultraconservative approach for political reasons.

Koreans are traditionally sensitive to Japanese leaders’ words or actions related to history and territorial issues. Korea was under Japan’s brutal colonial rule from 1910-45.

They consider Japan’s Dokdo claim a legacy of Japan’s imperialistic past and a clear sign that it’s still not atoning for past wrongdoings.

The textbook issue is expected to add fuel to drawn-out diplomatic stand-offs between Seoul and Tokyo.

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