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Seoul blasts textbook plan

Tokyo escalates dispute over tiny islets to elementary school level

Kyodo

South Korea on Friday criticized a move by Japan to include the government’s territorial claims to two tiny South Korean-held islands in elementary school textbooks.

“Our government strongly criticizes the Japanese government’s approval of elementary textbooks that stepped up the level of provocation over Dokdo,” a statement by the South Korean Foreign Ministry said, referring to the disputed islands by their Korean name. The Japanese name is Takeshima.

“Japan should remember its future generation will be further isolated in the international community if education distorts and conceals the history of its past imperialistic aggression,” the statement said.

South Korea “clearly warns that a way to improve relations with Japan will be farther if Japan continues to make provocations over Dokdo by using the excuse of its textbook screening system,” it said.

The rocky islets are situated roughly halfway between the two countries and host a Korean police unit.

The ministry has decided to summon Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koro Bessho to lodge a protest over the textbook screening move, according to a government official.

The education ministry said Japan’s territorial disputes with China and South Korea over small islets will be mentioned in all social studies textbooks for elementary school students from the academic year starting in April 2015.

They also will refer to the disputes over the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are claimed by China as Diaoyu and by Taiwan as Tiaoyutai, according to the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.

The changes have already been made in textbooks to be published for fifth- and sixth-graders, the ministry said.

Earlier in the day, the South Korean Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing disappointment with Japan’s claim in a government paper issued Friday.

“We express strong regret over the Japanese government, in its Diplomatic Bluebook, repeating its preposterous claim over Dokdo, which is an integral part of our territory,” according to a statement issued by the ministry.

Japan’s claim over the islets will “seriously impair relations between South Korea and Japan and also peace and stability in Northeast Asia,” it said.