South Korea Protests Japan's Approval of Textbooks Distorting Wartime History

South Korea lodges strong protest against Japan's new textbooks that downplay wartime atrocities and reinforce territorial claims, highlighting ongoing tensions over shared history.

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South Korea Protests Japan's Approval of Textbooks Distorting Wartime History

South Korea Protests Japan's Approval of Textbooks Distorting Wartime History

South Korea has lodged a strong protest against Japan after Tokyo approved new school textbooks that downplay the coercive nature of its wartime atrocities and reinforce its territorial claims to Dokdo, the easternmost islets of South Korea. The South Korean foreign ministry called in the Japanese ambassador to deliver the formal protest, expressing "deep regrets" over the new textbooks, which contain "illogical claims" over Dokdo and "irrational and inaccurate accounts" on issues like Korean sexual slavery victims and forced labor during Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.

The textbooks, approved last month by Japan's education ministry for middle school students, are viewed by South Korea as misrepresenting the historical facts about Japan's colonial rule. The South Korean government emphasized that Dokdo is an integral part of its territory and any sovereignty claims by Japan are unacceptable. "The South Korean government strongly condemns the Japanese government's authorization of textbooks containing illogical content that undermines the basic facts of history," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

South Korea also expressed concerns over the potential prejudice that the young generation of Japan may develop due to the biased and distorted historical perspectives presented in the approved textbooks. The ministry urged the Japanese government to take a more "responsible attitude" in educating its youth about the colonial past, stating, "Japan's act of approving textbooks that glorify its past wrongdoings, rather than humbly reflecting on and apologizing for them, is truly irresponsible as it plants distorted historical perspectives in the minds of the young generation."

Why this matters: The textbook controversy highlights the ongoing tensions between South Korea and Japan over the interpretation of their shared history. The two countries have long-standing disputes over Japan's colonial rule and wartime atrocities, which continue to strain diplomatic relations and hinder reconciliation efforts.

The South Korean government has demanded that Japan immediately retract the approval of the textbooks and make corrections to the historical inaccuracies. Foreign ministry spokesperson Lim Soo-suk emphasized that Japan must face its past squarely and educate its youth truthfully about the colonial era. "Japan should take immediate steps to correct the textbooks' distorted accounts. It is crucial for Japan to approach history with a responsible and honest attitude to build forward-looking relations with neighboring countries," Lim stated at a press briefing.

Key Takeaways

  • South Korea lodged strong protest against Japan's new textbooks downplaying wartime atrocities.
  • Textbooks contain "illogical claims" over Dokdo and "inaccurate accounts" on colonial era issues.
  • South Korea condemns Japan's authorization of textbooks with distorted historical perspectives.
  • Textbook controversy highlights ongoing tensions between South Korea and Japan over shared history.
  • South Korea demands Japan retract approval and correct historical inaccuracies in the textbooks.