S. Korea protests Japan's textbook distortion

Takashi Kurai, Japan's deputy chief of mission in Seoul, enters the Foreign Ministry building on Tuesday.

Seoul on Tuesday protested Japan's approval of newly updated schoolbooks that carry its claim to the Korean islets of Dokdo and distort its wartime atrocities.

The Foreign Ministry called in Takashi Kurai, a minister at the Japanese Embassy, and delivered a written complaint.

"We strongly protest and urge a fundamental rectification of the Japanese government's authorisation of high school textbooks including content that still does not look squarely at history and evades its responsibilities," ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said in a statement.

Tokyo's education ministry certified 21 versions of high school textbooks on Japanese history, politics, world history and geology as part of its quadrennial deliberation.

While their historical interpretations vary by the publishers' political inclination, the list did not include those from ultra-right publishers like Husosha, Jiyusha, Ikuhosha and Tokyo Shoseki, which mainly produce middle school materials.

Of the total, 15 workbooks assert Japan's control over the islets or refer to the two countries' territorial row by stating "Korea's unilateral occupation" or suggesting the UN Security Council or International Court of Justice as possible solutions.

Two Japanese history books newly inserted maps showing Dokdo as Japanese territory, while one world history book included corresponding statements.

On the history front, nine versions brought up Japan's cruelties during World War II including sexual slavery and forced labour and mobilization.

Some of them "relatively more clearly" stated Tokyo's responsibility in particular for the so-called comfort women and its need to atone and compensate than their previous editions, ministry officials said.

But a few others showed a "partial retrogression of historical recognition" by deleting accounts of forcible conscription, they added.

"From what we've acquired so far, we have not seen any extreme cases due to the absence of right-wing publishers. We need to purchase all the editions and consult with experts to further verify the historical facts," a senior official told reporters on customary condition of anonymity.

Become a fan on Facebook