SEOUL – A newly authorized South Korean history textbook includes some positive passages about Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula before and during World War II, according to local reports.
The textbook describes how new cities that developed under colonial rule became transport and distribution hubs, a newspaper reported.
It also states that during the Japanese occupation, industrialization progressed while a new type of educated woman emerged.
The descriptions are based on the theory that Japanese colonial rule helped promote South Korean modernization. Such explanations have never appeared in textbooks in South Korea, where the colonial period is widely cast in a negative light.
The textbook from Kyohak Publishing Co. was written by a conservative group of scholars known as the New Right. It is one of eight textbooks recently authorized for high schools by the National Institute of Korean History, the textbook screening panel commissioned by the nation’s education ministry.
This is the first time a text authored by New Right historians has passed the screening process since the current system was introduced in 2010. Until then, South Korean schools used texts compiled by the government.
The textbook has already stirred heated debate. Attention is focused on how many high schools across the country will decide to use it from next March.
China pushes again
China is once again urging Japan to face up its aggressive past, this time on the date regarded by Beijing as the end of World War II.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang released a statement Tuesday saying the “Victory of War of Resistance against Japan” was “a great triumph of justice over evil, light over darkness and progressive forces over reactionary elements.”
“Any attempt to overturn the verdict on Japan’s history of invasion will be vehemently resisted and opposed by people of the victimized Asian countries and the international community,” the statement said.
The 68th anniversary of the end of World War II comes as relations between the two countries are in tatters over the Senkaku territorial dispute.
China has also been criticizing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s intention to revise the war-renouncing Constitution and his hawkish political views.
Tuesday’s statement calls on Japan to “adopt a responsible attitude toward history and the future, truly honor its statements and commitments on reflecting on its history of aggression, and take concrete actions to win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community.”
Every year, China observes the victory of its war of resistance against Japan on Sept. 3, because Japan formally surrendered to the Allied Powers on Sept. 2, 1945, with a signing ceremony aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.