South Korean Ambassador Choi Sang Yong said Wednesday he hopes Japan will “respond sincerely” to Seoul’s request to correct what it sees as factual errors in a controversial history textbook.
Critics say the book, written by a group of nationalistic authors, glosses over Japan’s past history of aggression against its Asian neighbors.
While South Korea admits that interpretations of history vary, Choi told reporters at the Japan National Press Club, the 35 items requested for correction are factual errors that can be revised even under Japan’s current textbook screening system.
Choi, a political science scholar and a respected expert on Japan, said many South Korean experts believe the book runs counter to the spirit of the 1998 joint declaration issued when President Kim Dae Jung visited Japan.
Under the declaration, then Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi expressed deep “remorse and heartfelt apology” for suffering by the Korean people under Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule, and the two countries agreed to build future-oriented relations based on a correct understanding of history.
While Tokyo maintains that the textbook does not represent the government’s interpretation of history, Choi said it bears responsibility because it “has made a judgment that the contents are appropriate to be used in a textbook.”
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology authorized the textbook in April. It is currently studying Seoul’s request, which was made earlier this month.
“I truly hope that the Japanese government will respond sincerely to the 35 items,” Choi said.
He also expressed concern over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s repeated remarks that he plans to visit Yasukuni Shrine, a monument to Japan’s war dead, on Aug. 15, the anniversary of Japan’s surrender ending World War II.
“I wish (Koizumi) does not make a choice that would undermine trust (of Japan) by neighboring countries,” he said.
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