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The BBC's Caroline Gluck in Seoul
"Officials stress the recall is not indefinite"
 real 28k

The BBC's Charles Scanlon in Tokyo
"The Japanese government will be worried about longer term damage"
 real 28k

Monday, 9 April, 2001, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Korea envoy recalled from Japan
Archive pic of Nanjing
Nanjing Massacre: Said to be "nothing like a holocaust"
South Korea has recalled its ambassador to Japan in protest at Tokyo's approval of new school history textbooks which, according to Seoul, gloss over Japanese World War II atrocities.

The textbook problem is a very important issue in relations between Korea and Japan

South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman
South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Eui-Taek said the ambassador, Choi Sang-Ryong, had been ordered to return home by Tuesday.

However, officials stressed that the recall was not indefinite.

"The ambassador will stay at home temporarily to discuss the textbook issue," Mr Kim was quoted as saying by the French news agency.

Other measures

Last week, South Korea lodged an official protest with Japan over the books.

Korean flag burning demo
Protestors in Seoul burn the Japanese flag
A Foreign Ministry statement said the texts included material "rationalising and glorifying Japan's past wrongdoings, based upon a self-centred interpretation of history."

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

The books have also prompted protests from China, North Korea and Taiwan.

The government in Seoul says a number of other counter-measures are being considered, including postponing the further opening up of domestic markets to Japanese cultural items.

South Korea, which was occupied by Japan for 35 years, also plans to raise the issue in Geneva at a meeting of the United Nations human rights committee.

No more revisions

The original draft of the controversial textbook is reported to have described the "unopposed" annexation of the Korean peninsula as "necessary for Japan's security".

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
It also referred to the 1937 Nanjing Massacre - in which some 300,000 civilians were slaughtered - as "nothing like a holocaust".

The books were written by a group of nationalist historians, who argue that existing texts go too far to accommodate the views of Japan's former adversaries.

The revised version, approved by the Japanese Education Ministry last week, is reported to acknowledge that an "armed struggle" took place in the Korean peninsula, and to have removed the attempt to play down the Rape of Nanjing.

The ministry said that, in all, more than 130 revisions had been made to the text.

But the Japanese authorities are so far resisting pressure from their Asian neighbours for further revisions to the controversial textbooks.

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See also:

04 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan stands firm on history book
03 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan textbook angers neighbours
31 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Attack on Japan ministry website
20 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Furore over Japan WWII remarks continues
09 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan and South Korea's troubled relations
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