SEOUL – South Korea on Tuesday formally demanded that Japan make 35 revisions to eight junior high history textbooks that critics say gloss over Japan’s wartime atrocities and its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
Han Seung Soo, South Korea’s foreign affairs and trade minister, summoned Japanese Ambassador Terusuke Terada and handed over the written requests, making the textbook issue an official diplomatic problem between the two countries.
“Distortions in some of the textbooks reopen old wounds in the minds of (South) Korean people and harm the (South) Korea-Japan friendship that is set to grow stronger in the future,” Han said.
The move came after a monthlong review of the eight textbooks conducted by a Seoul government task force comprised of officials from related ministries and an advisory group of history specialists and experts on Japanese affairs.
According to a report by the task force, South Korea demanded 25 revisions in the most contentious textbook, compiled by nationalist academics of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and to be published by Fuso Publishing Co., and 10 additional revisions in the seven other texts.
The review broke down into three categories — erroneous descriptions, misleading interpretations and intentional omissions of facts, according to the report.
Some of the textbooks “contain passages detrimental to maintaining peaceful coexistence of all humankind, and friendship with (South) Korea,” the task force said.
The list of revisions includes not only modern history but also entries on ancient and medieval periods that South Korea claims were described inaccurately.
The most controversial textbook attempts to justify Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula and describes a Japanese colony on the Korean Peninsula during the Yamato Period (300-550), a description rejected by South Korean historians as groundless.
South Korea also demanded revisions where the book suggests Japan’s colonial domination of the Korean Peninsula benefited the Korean people because railways and irrigation systems were built.
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