S. Korean Envoy Voices Concern About Japanese History Textbook

Kim Jong Pil, visiting head of the league of South Korean and Japanese parliamentarians, urged Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori Thursday to ensure the recent controversy over a Japanese history textbook does not damage bilateral ties between Seoul and Tokyo, the Kyodo News reported.

In a meeting at the Japanese prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Kim told Mori he hopes the controversy "does not have a negative impact on bilateral relations, which are currently very good," the report said, quoting a Japanese government official.

Mori explained to Kim that unlike South Korea, the Japanese government does not compile its own textbooks but screens ones drawn up by private institutions, adding that the textbook, for junior high school students, is undergoing strict screening.

Earlier in the day, Kim, a former South Korean prime minister, met with Japanese lawmakers in Tokyo and voiced concern over the textbook dispute, the report said.

The textbook was compiled by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, which claims that current books are biased against Japan and full of self-denigration.

An early draft that has not been made public reportedly referred to the World War II as the "Greater East Asian War of the Co-Prosperity Sphere," and contained no references to the Imperial Japanese Army's practice of sexual slavery.

The textbook, which tries to distort history and justify Japan' s past aggression against Asian countries, has drawn a storm of condemnation from Japan's neighboring countries.

(Xinhua 03/08/2001)

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