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Saturday, 31 March, 2001, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Attack on Japan ministry website
Comfort woman campaigners protest in Washington
Former 'comfort women' experienced history first-hand
South Korean hackers have caused a Japanese education ministry website to crash as part of a protest against a controversial history textbook.

The cyber attack - mainly by university students - comes ahead of the final review of the book, which protesters say distorts history and justifies Japan's past wartime aggression against Asian countries.

The protesters also targeted four other websites, including those of the publishers of the book and of Japan's governing Liberal Democratic Party.

South Korean police said they were monitoring the attack, but taking no action to prevent it.

Japanese education ministry officials said access to their website had been made difficult during the attack.

'Distortion'

The ministry is to take a final decision on whether to approve the textbook for publication in April, before it becomes part of the curriculum for junior high schools next year.

Protests against Japan's planned schoolbooks
These people want Japan's young people to study "unbiased" history
The controversial book, written by a group of right-wing academics, says Asian nations benefited from wartime rule by Tokyo, preparing them for independence from western colonisers.

Its original draft spoke of Japan's annexation of the Korean Peninsula in 1910 as being "legitimate" and said the 1937-1938 Nanjing massacre in China "was not a holocaust".

South Korea and China have led Asian protests over these assertions, which are said to have been revised.

On the anniversary of the independence movement formed to fight the Japanese occupation, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung called on Tokyo to adhere to what he called "a correct understanding of history".

He urged Japan to continue efforts to develop relationships with his and other countries in the region to overcome the problems of the past.

Threatened ties

South Korean officials have threatened unspecified measures if the book is not revised. These could include postponing the opening of the Korean market to Japanese cultural items.

President Kim Dae-jung
President Kim Dae-jung has called for better relations
The BBC's Seoul correspondent, Caroline Gluck, says the protests underline the lingering bitterness in Korea over Japan's 35-year occupation of the country.

Three years ago, the two countries pledged to improve bilateral ties and enhance forward-looking relations.

Since then, South Korea has gradually lifted decades-old bans on Japanese cultural imports such as films and pop music.

The two countries were controversially named the co-hosts of the 2002 Football World Cup.

But in what is being seen as a sign of more trouble, Hiroshima's High Court on Thursday overturned the only compensation award ever made to World War II sex slaves, prompting outrage in South Korea.

Presiding judge Toshiaki Kawanami said abducting the women to use them as forced labourers and sex slaves was not a serious constitutional violation.

A coalition of 22 South Korean civic groups furiously condemned the Hiroshima ruling.

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See also:

26 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Court rejects Korean wartime claim
20 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Furore over Japan WWII remarks continues
15 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Korean protest at Japan history book
29 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan overturns sex slave ruling
27 Apr 98 | Asia-Pacific
Wartime 'sex slaves' get compensation
08 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Sex slaves put Japan on trial
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