• Kyodo

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A Malaysian government minister has urged Japan to apologize for distorting the history of its aggression in Asia and to emulate Germany’s openness in acknowledging atrocities committed in the past, a local newspaper reported Monday.

“We definitely do not agree with Japan changing the history of the war in its textbooks, and it should apologize for doing this,” Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy was quoted as saying by The Star, an English-language daily.

Chan is also the deputy president of the Malaysian Chinese Association, the second-largest party in the 14-party National Front ruling coalition and one touted as representing a quarter of Malaysia’s population of 26 million. Ethnic Chinese make up the second-biggest racial group in the country.

Chan called it “totally unacceptable” for Japan to give its history a “face-lift” and to “whitewash its aggression during the war.” Instead, he said, it should follow the example set by Germany by admitting that its wartime actions were wrong.

The Malaysian Chinese Association is taking a cue from the influential Federation of the Chinese Associations of Malaysia, a grouping of some 7,700 Chinese guilds and associations in the country that has launched a petition drive to protest Japan’s adoption of contentious school textbooks and its bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council — issues blamed for sparking violent anti-Japan protests in China.

A demonstration was held last week by more than 100 members of the Johor Baru Chinese Federation in the southern state of Johor, where they shouted anti-Japan slogans and burned effigies of an Imperial Japanese Army soldier.

Aside from these incidents, reaction has been muted, especially among the country’s ethnic Malay majority.

The Malaysian government has taken a low-key approach to the recent deterioration of Sino-Japanese relations, with Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi saying recently. “It is strictly a bilateral issue between the two countries.”

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