SEOUL – South Korea, Japan and China on Saturday held the first three-way meeting between the education ministers from their countries who are often at odds over how their shared wartime pasts are portrayed in textbooks.
History education was not on the agenda during the talks. The ministers did agree, though, to hold gatherings annually and expand student exchanges and partnership programs between universities as well as elementary, middle and high schools.
The second trilateral meeting will be held in Japan next year and the third in China in 2018, according to South Korea’s Education Ministry.
Further discussions are needed before issues concerning history can be taken up in the future, said Yoo Jiwan, a South Korean ministry official. South Korean Education Minister Lee Joon-sik said the trilateral meetings between the Northeast Asian neighbors will “plant the seeds of peace.”
“I am confident that exchanges of children, teachers and governments on education will contribute to peace in Asia and the world,” said Japanese education minister Hiroshi Hase at the beginning of the meeting.
The countries have struggled to settle disputes stemming from Japan’s colonial rule over Korea in the early 20th century and its wartime aggression against China. School books have often been at the center of such arguments.