National / Politics

Japan, South Korean lawmakers call for joint history textbooks with China

Kyodo

Japanese and South Korean lawmakers working to promote bilateral exchanges issued a statement in Tokyo on Saturday urging their governments and China to produce joint Northeast Asian history textbooks.

The Japan-Korea Parliamentarians’ Union, together with its South Korean counterpart, the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians’ Union, pushed for the books to cover the history of their two nations and China’s at a combined general meeting at the Diet.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye in November called for the publication of joint textbooks to advance cooperation and dialogue, citing similar texts published in Europe between neighboring countries on opposing sides in World War II.

The joint statement also included a promise by the Diet members to “work even harder” to extend suffrage in regional elections to permanent residents, responding to South Korea’s request for a bill to be drawn up.

The statement left out the possibility of a resumption of bilateral talks between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Park. Abe has called for direct talks with Park but none have been arranged since the two leaders came to power.

The lawmakers also agreed to cooperate on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement under negotiation between Japan and 11 other states, and on decontamination efforts following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. South Korea’s finance minister expressed interest in joining the TPP on Friday.

The two groups expressed shared concerns about North Korea’s nuclear threat, calling it “the gravest issue affecting peace and security in Northeast Asia,” while touching upon their cooperation in tackling the issue of Pyongyang’s past abductions of Japanese nationals.

The Diet members are led by former Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga, a lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The South Korean side was headed by Huang Woo-yea of Park’s conservative Saenuri Party.