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Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
Japan stands firm on history book
Japanese ambassador and South Korean foreign minister
Summoned: Japan's ambassador Terusuke Terada, left
Japan has refused to bow to foreign pressure to withdraw a controversial new school history textbook.


There is no possibility whatsoever that the Foreign Ministry will intervene

Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono
Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono said no further changes would be made following an education ministry screening of the text.

Critics say the book glosses over Japan's military activities during the Second World War.

South Koreans are particularly angered that there is no reference to Korean women being used by Japanese soldiers as sex slaves.

South Korean Foreign Minister, Han Siung-soo, summoned the Japanese ambassador in Seoul, Terusuke Terada, to file the complaint.

The Japanese envoy to Beijing has also been called in to the Chinese foreign ministry to receive a protest.

No change

But Japan has stood firm.

"The screening procedures were completed, and therefore there will be no change," Mr Kono was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

Korean activist writes anti-Japan slogan in his own blood
Activists say even the screened version of the book is an insult
The Japanese education ministry says more than 100 changes were already made during the screening of the draft text to take account of the concerns.

These include the removal of comments which attempted to downplay the seriousness of the Rape of Nanjing in 1937, in which Japanese troops massacred hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians.

But controversial sections have been left in, including a description of Japanese soldiers braving "death with honour".

"There is no possibility whatsoever that the Foreign Ministry will intervene," Mr Kono told the Lower House of parliament's foreign affairs committee.

Protest

Senior South Korean government officials have been meeting in Seoul to consider what other steps to take.

Original draft: Contentious issues
Dismissed the Nanjing Massacre as "nothing like a holocaust"
Described the invasion of the Korean peninsula as an unopposed annexation, necessary for Japan's security
Alleged that Japan's wartime rule prepared Asian countries for independence from European colonial masters

These could include recalling the South Korean envoy to Tokyo and postponing the further opening up of domestic markets to Japanese cultural items.

China's official Xinhua news agency said the Japanese screening had not changed the books "nature of distorting historical facts and glorifying wars of aggression".

Shortly before the official protest was delivered to Japan's ambassador, a group of South Korean protesters, including women forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese military, demonstrated outside the Japanese embassy.

Some of them, now in their 80s, spoke to the crowd, calling on Japan to address its wartime past and issue an official apology.

They say their ordeal has not been mentioned in the book.

A statement issued by the protesters, said: "It is an unforgivable sin to turn one's face away from past atrocities while many of the victims are still suffering from the abuse they endured."

The book was written by a group of nationalistic historians who claim that existing texts go too far to accommodate the views of Japan's former adversaries.

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See also:

03 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan textbook angers neighbours
31 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Attack on Japan ministry website
26 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Court rejects Korean wartime claim
15 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Korean protest at Japan history book
29 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan overturns sex slave ruling
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