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Seoul protests Tokyo over Dokdo claims in textbooks

Mar 25,2017
Some 79 percent of high school social studies textbooks authorized by the Japanese Education Ministry in its latest review claim that Dokdo, Korea’s easternmost islets, are Japanese territory, a move strongly protested by Seoul on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced its list of 24 textbooks, which are authorized to be used next school year in April for high school sophomores.

Out of the 24 authorized social studies textbooks, 19 included claims that Dokdo, called Takeshima in Japanese, is Japan’s “inherent territory” or that Korea is “illegally occupying” the islets.

Eight history textbooks contain a passage that makes claims along the lines of Dokdo being “incorporated as Japanese territory in 1905,” including a publisher that made no mention of the Dokdo issue in a previous edition. Following the Protectorate Treaty of 1905, Japan annexed Korea in 1910 and its brutal colonial rule lasted to 1945.

One publisher’s geography textbook previously only mentioned that there was a “territorial dispute with Korea,” but its new edition now includes text that Dokdo is Japan’s inherent territory and that Korea is illegally occupying it, as do the two other geography textbooks that have been approved.

The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs later in the afternoon summoned Hideo Suzuki, a minister at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, and Chung Byung-won, the ministry’s director general handling Northeast Asian affairs, lodged a complaint over the textbook issue.

Cho June-hyuck, spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, said in a statement Friday that the Korean government “strongly protests that the Japanese government once again approved high school textbooks that contain a distorted perspective of history, including unjustifiable claims to Dokdo, clearly an integral part of Korean territory, and demands an immediate correction.”

The Korean Education Ministry made similar protests.

Cho added that the victims of “erroneous historical perspective” are the “future generations of Japan,” calling for a responsible education while “squarely facing history.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]