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


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.

  • This would have to be the ultimate acknowledgement that you can’t rely on the government to be exponents of objectivity, fact, knowledge or truth. If only the premise was appreciated more widely, we could deride the Prussian model of education sanctioned in Germany, Japan, the US and other Western countries.

  • Carmen Sterba

    A joint textbook for China, Korea and Japan would be an epic breakthrough; however, it would most likely stalemate because of heated debates of opposite opinions, especially when it comes to the Japanese role in occupying Korea and China. As an American, who lived in Japan for 30 years, I have always hoped these three Far East Asian countries could be better neighbors; therefore, I certainly hope this project will be successful! I would suggest that student leaders in all three countries take part as well. What do the students want to know about the histories of each country during the war? Will young Japanese be courageous to listen to their neighbors?

    • True…probably good to have that conversation whilst people are alive though to recount actual events. Publicity might help and culminate in some empathy. Wishful thinking? lol

  • Shuami

    This is an encouraging development. Hope it will bear fruit.