• Kyodo

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An orchestra based in the South Korean city of Suwon has decided to go ahead with its plans to perform a concert in its Japanese sister city.

The Aug. 7 concert in Asahikawa, central Hokkaido, had initially been postponed following a Seoul-Tokyo row over a controversial junior high school textbook.

This decision was reversed Thursday, however, after Asahikawa officials lobbied the orchestra on behalf of local residents, explaining that the city had opted against using the textbook, which was compiled by nationalist scholars.

The orchestra now hopes to stage the event in line with its original plans in an effort to maintain friendly ties with the Japanese city.

Asahikawa and Suwon have been sister cities since 1989, while the concert constitutes part of an effort to promote the 2002 World Cup soccer tournament, which will be cohosted by Japan and South Korea.

About 800 concert tickets have been distributed among Asahikawa residents.

The contentious textbook, which was compiled by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and was published by Fuso Publishing Inc., has sparked furious protests from South Korea and China. Beijing and Seoul claim the text glosses over Japanese wartime atrocities.

Japanese critics also say the textbook features several erroneous passages and tries to justify Japan’s aggression in Asia before and during World War II.

The ongoing controversy has cast a pall over grassroots efforts to promote Japan-South Korea relations, sparking the cancellation or postponement of more than 100 bilateral events, including sports and children’s festivals.

On July 9, Japan rejected South Korea’s demand that revisions be made to 35 passages featured in eight history textbooks that have been approved by the education ministry.

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