SEOUL – South Korea condemned Japan on Friday for renewing its claim to islands in new high school education guidelines adopted by the education ministry the same day.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry summoned Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine the same day and lodged its protest over the Japanese claims to the South Korean-controlled islets, known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan.
South Korea “strongly condemns the Japanese government’s final adoption … of the courses of study for high schools that contain unjustifiable claims to Dokdo, an integral part of (South Korea’s) territory . . . and sternly demands an immediate withdrawal,” a ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
The statement called the islets territory “that was forcibly occupied by imperial Japan … in the course of its forcible occupation of and aggression against the Korean Peninsula.”
“The Japanese government must be well aware that if it, despite this, continues efforts to instill an erroneous perspective of history over Dokdo into the country’s future generations and refuses to repent of its past imperialist aggression, it will miss out on the opportunity to learn from the past history,” it added.
The latest curriculum guidelines for senior high schools have included a reference to the islands and the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, claimed by China, as “inherent” parts of Japan’s territory for the first time, after those for elementary and junior high schools, revised last year, included the same description.
The guidelines, which were unveiled in February and became official Friday, will be applied to the education of newly enrolled senior high school students from the school year starting April 2022.
Curriculum guidelines for elementary and high schools are revised around every 10 years to ensure quality education around the country. The legally binding guidelines show baseline knowledge that must be taught in classrooms, and serve as guidelines when compiling school textbooks.
South Korea and Japan have been contesting ownership of the islets in the Sea of Japan since the early 1950s. The two islets and small reefs around them have a combined area of just 0.21 sq. km and are situated roughly equidistant from the Korean Peninsula and Japan’s main island of Honshu.
South Korea has stationed a police garrison there and built lodgings, a monitoring facility, a lighthouse, and port and docking facilities.
The Senkaku Islands, claimed as Diaoyu by China and Tiaoyutai by Taiwan, are a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Tensions around the islands have risen considerably since the Japanese government bought some of the islands from a private Japanese owner in 2012 to bring them under state control.