South Korea protests about new Japanese history textbook

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    The AFP reports that Seoul is angry about a new history textbook made under the guidance of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and approved by the Japanese government:

    “The government strongly protests that the Japanese government Thursday approved the history textbook which justifies and beautifies past wrongdoings based on false historical perception,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

    “The government calls for a fundamental correction to this.”

    The textbook published by a right-wing group will be available to middle schools from next year until 2011. Seoul officials say it glosses over Japan’s invasions of Korea and other Asian states before and during World War II.

    Like many articles in the international press about protests over Japanese textbooks, it contains no actual quotations from the controversial books.

    Mainichi also has an article up about the new textbooks, noting that the government forced the publishers to make several hundred corrections before it received final approval. It actually includes specific passages that were revised, giving us some idea of how the final textbook probably turned out:

    The social studies textbook, published by Jiyusha, originally carried a passage on war history stating, “In areas that were invaded, Japanese troops … were also unable to fully avert unjust killings and abuse toward unarmed civilians and soldiers of enemy countries who became prisoners of war.” This passage was judged to be “difficult to understand,” and the wording was subsequently changed to “… carried out unjust killings and abuse, leaving behind great horrors.”

    In another passage on the period after Korea’s opening, the phrase that Japan “assisted in modernization” was changed to “assisted in military system reform” on the basis that the original wording could be misinterpreted. Another section on Japan’s advance south was also changed over fears that it could be taken to mean that Japan contributed to independence of countries in Asia.

    Sounds like the government already made fundamental corrections.

    Most of the other history textbooks in use at Japanese junior high schools are even more direct in mentioning the not-so-pretty aspects of Imperial Japan and the war. (The last time a controversial textbook from the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform was approved by the Japanese government, only 0.4% of Japanese schools actually used the book in question. )

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