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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
South Korea's textbook demands
A protester speaks through a megaphone during an anti-Japan campaign in Seoul, South Korean
South Korea says the textbooks contain factual errors
South Korea has formally demanded that Japan make 35 revisions to eight history textbooks.

It says the eight books glorify Japan's colonial rule of the Korean peninsula and gloss over atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army.

The books describe World War II as the Great Asian War and dismiss the documented 1937-38 massacre of the Chinese population of Nanjing as "nothing like the Holocaust."

South Koreans protesters burn a Japanese flag
South Korea says the books gloss over the war
The most controversial book is by nationalist academics of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, to be published by Fuso Publishing Co.

South Korea wants 25 changes made to the book, which, like four others, omits any reference to the tens of thousands of young women - most of them Korean - forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese military.

Promised jobs in factories, the girls were tricked into working in brothels. Some were abducted.


Japanese officials say the publishers dropped references to the so-called "comfort women" because of requests from teachers who felt awkward discussing sex with their pupils.

A panel of South Korean officials and experts spent a month analysing the books, which are due to be used at junior high schools in Japan from next April.

They came up with three categories of objection:

  • erroneous descriptions
  • misguiding interpretations
  • intentional omissions of historical facts

One book suggests that Japan's 1910-45 colonisation of the Korean peninsula benefited the Korean people by leading to the construction of railways and irrigation systems. It says the annexation was unopposed and that the Japanese Government considered it necessary for Japan's stability and for the defence of Japan's interests in Manchuria.

South Korea says the book is trying to "beautify" Japanese history and to pretend that its colonial activities had international legal recognition.

The list of revisions also include changes to accounts of ancient and medieval history, most of which South Korea says is described inaccurately in the books.

For example, one book talks of the existence of a Japanese colony on the Korean peninsula during the Yamato period (300-550) - a theory rejected by South Korean historians as speculation.

The Japanese education ministry approved the books in April after making 137 changes to the text to try to avoid angering Asian neighbours. And despite South Korea's objections Japan insists it cannot revise the books again.

"There cannot be further modification unless the textbooks contain obvious factual errors," said minister of state and chief cabinet secretary Yasuo Fukada.

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See also:

08 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan refuses textbook changes
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
26 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Court rejects Korean wartime claim
29 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan overturns sex slave ruling
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