SEOUL/TOKYO, March 29 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea lodged a strong protest against Japan on Tuesday over its new school textbooks that have deleted words that show the coercive nature of its World War II atrocities against Koreans.
In a statement, Seoul’s foreign ministry expressed “deep regrets” and urged Tokyo to address the problem, describing the move as a distortion of historical truths.
The ministry’s director general for Asia Pacific affairs, Lee Sang-ryeol, called in Naoki Kumagai, deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, to deliver a formal protest message as well.
The move came shortly after an announcement by Japan’s education ministry on the results of its screening of textbooks for use by second-year and third-year high school students nationwide starting in 2023
The expression “forced mobilization” regarding Koreans forced into hard labor at Japan’s mines and industrial facilities have been revised to “mobilization” or “conscription” in the government-censored education materials. Korea was under Japan’s brutal colonial rule from 1910-45.
As for Korean women sexually enslaved by Japan’s imperial army, many of the textbooks, approved by the ministry, have left out the expression “wartime comfort women” or downplayed related historical facts.
On the other hand, the books give more explanation of Japan’s assertions that Dokdo, a set of rocky islets in the East Sea, belongs to it and that South Korea is illegally occupying the territory.
South Korea accused Japan of “watering down” the expressions and descriptions of forced labor and sexual enslavement.
Seoul’s foreign ministry urged Tokyo to provide a proper education of history on the basis of the “spirit of apology” that some of its leaders made in the past in connection with its wartime atrocities.
On the subject of Dokdo, it made clear that none of Japan’s related claims are acceptable. Seoul officials stressed that Dokdo is an integral part of South Korea’s territory historically, geographically, and under international law.