Roundup: S.Korea Tougher on Japanese Textbook Issue

South Korea Monday said the Japanese rejection to revise 35 passages distorting history in eight middle school textbooks is intolerable.

The textbook issue is of vital importance to the relations between South Korea and Japan. South Korea has to take serious stance to it, said a senior South Korean official Monday afternoon by quoting President Kim Dae-jung.

The official said President Kim Dae-jung's refusal to meet the secretary-generals from Japan's three ruling coalition parties Sunday fully expressed his "position on the issue".

He added that South Korea will take all necessary measures in stage against the issue.

Monday morning, Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Terusuke Terada told the South Korean Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Han Seung-soo that after a two-month review of the history textbooks, Japan will revise only two of the 35 passages demanded by South Korea in early May.

In a statement issued Monday morning, the South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry pointed out that despite of agreed revision of two passages related to ancient history of the Korean Peninsula in the eight history textbooks, the extent of the Japanese revision is unacceptable.

All Japanese middle schools, public or private, are to choose one of the eight history textbooks by August 15 for use next year.

The review outcome is believed as the Japanese government's de facto rejection of Seoul's demands for revision of controversial history textbooks, showing that the South Korean months-long efforts could end in failure.

The South Korean government is expected to soon announce countermeasures, such as the refusal to arrange foreign ministerial talks with Japan on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum slated to open in Hanoi later this month, a delay in the opening of its cultural product markets to Japanese products, even cancellation of ongoing exchange programs with Tokyo, said South Korean officials.

In particular, Seoul has been considering ways to foil Japan's efforts for more important role in the international arena by questioning Japan's morals and ethics, they said.

Meanwhile, South Korean political parties are united in their condemnation of the Japanese government for rejection of Seoul's demands for revision of controversial history textbooks.

"We should use every means possible to correct history before (Tokyo) distorts it further. Korea cannot have a neighborly relationship with Japan if it refuses our justified demands," said Jeon Yong-hak, a spokesman of ruling Millenium Democratic Party.

The opposition Grand National Party (GNP) also condemned the Japanese government, calling Japanese's decision an "attempt to revive the specter of a militaristic Japan."

"This decision is nothing more than a declaration that Japan does not want Asian peace any longer, voluntarily seeking isolation in Northeast Asia," the opposition said in a statement.

The United Liberal Democrats (ULD), a coalition partner of the ruling Millenium Democratic Party, stated "Japan will be judged sternly by the rest of the world unless it stops trying to isolate itself from the international community."

In Addition, an alliance of 80 South Korean civic groups issued at a press conference a protest against Japan's alleged whitewashing of history.

The alliance urged the South Korean government to take stern diplomatic action, saying that it will struggle to the end with other conscientious forces worldwide to protest against Japan's attitude.

The organization also will take its own actions, including a boycott of Japanese products, protest against visits by local administration officials to their counterparts in Japanese sister cities, a nation-wide campaign to buy advertising space in Japanese newspapers to call on Japanese schools not to use the distorting history textbooks.

Despite the outcome of the Japanese review is disappointing, observers said there is still the possibility that Japan will make more revisions as Japanese publishing companies could rewrite

disputed passages before they are to be used in schools.

Japanese Fuso Publishing Inc. said it could revise passages if necessary on July 2 when it applied for approval of nine passages in its textbook. Out of the nine, five were included in the 35 passages South Korea demanded for revision.

(Xinhua News Agency 07/09/2001)

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