Japan's 'nationalist' school textbook outrages Koreans

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The Independent Online

The Japanese government approved the use of a nationalistic school textbook yesterday, defying diplomatic protests and provoking an outcry from South Korea.

The Japanese government approved the use of a nationalistic school textbook yesterday, defying diplomatic protests and provoking an outcry from South Korea.

The Seoul government said in a statement: "We cannot but express deep concerns. The development of bilateral relations between Korea and Japan will suffer great damage if Japanese young people receive an incorrect historical education through textbooks that contain distorted historical facts."

South Korea also threatened to recall its ambassador to Japan. The South Korean statement accused the textbook of "rationalising and glorifying Japan's past wrongdoings based upon a self-centred interpretation of history".

The Japanese Society to Create New Text Books, a group of nationalist academics, set out to instill pride in Japanese historical achievements with the text, counteracting what it regards as a "masochistic" tendency to apologise for atrocities and oppression by Japan.

Korea and China made diplomatic protests to Japan when the book was originally sent to the Japanese schools ministry for approval. Yesterday, the Tokyo government complained to Seoul after a "cyber-attack" by South Korean students paralysed a website containing the text.

Japanese schooltextbooks must be approved by the country's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Yasuo Fukuda, the government's chief spokesman, said: "Historical perspectives in textbooks should not be identified as those of the Japanese government."

In truth, the ministry did insist on changes to the original draft. The book described Japan's annex of Korea in 1910 as having taken place "legally". This was changed to "by force". The publisher also removed a reference to the Nanking Massacre in 1937, in which about 200,000 Chinese were killed by the Japanese Imperial Army, which described it as "nothing on the scale of the Holocaust". The book makes no reference to Unit 731, a secret project to test biological weapons on live prisoners of war, or to the female sex slaves known as "comfort women".

Mr Fukuda said: "Japan humbly accepts that for a period it caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly those of Asian nations, and expresses its deep remorse and heartfelt apology for this."

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