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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
China protests over history book
Japanese soldier in Nanjing
The book had claimed the Rape of Nanjing was "not a holocaust"
China has stepped up pressure on Japan to revise a controversial history textbook which has been criticised for glossing over wartime atrocities, but Japan has stood firm on the issue.

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the textbook "advocates imperialism and whitewashes... Japan's history of aggression."

We should overcome this textbook issue... to make the World Cup a success

South Korean ambassador to Japan
"The Chinese side demands [Japan] correct the mistakes and... [face] up to history," the China Daily newspaper quoted Mr Wang as saying.

Mr Wang also summoned the Japanese ambassador to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday to deliver a memorandum demanding revisions to the textbook, officials said.

Both China and South Korea have made a number of official protests to Japan over the issue in the last two months, and last week Seoul demanded 25 passages in the book be revised.

South Koreans protesters burn a Japanese flag
The issue has stirred up bitter memories in South Korea
They have accused the book's authors of avoiding references and blame to the invasion of neighbouring countries - namely South Korea and China - and the military's use of sex slaves.

According to the China Daily, the text glorifies Japanese colonial rule in north-east China, glosses over the massacre of civilians in Nanjing, and attacks sentences passed against Japanese war criminals.

Tokyo argues that the history textbooks, approved by an independent education commission for use by schoolchildren aged 13 to 15 years, do not represent the government's official view of history.

Tokyo firm

Government leaders in Tokyo said China's objections would be noted, but resisted revising the book.

"While we cannot make revisions, we will listen sincerely to such criticism and respond sincerely," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said.
Protesters burn a Japanese flag in South Korea
Protesters burn a Japanese flag

"I would like to come up with wisdom to find a way to understand and respect each other's positions so as to improve ties between Japan and China," he added.

The prime minister himself has courted controversy by his plan to visit a shrine honoring war dead, including convicted war criminals.

China has urged him to consider how the visit could affect Japan's relations with its neighbours.

World Cup raised

South Korea's Ambassador to Japan Choi Sang-ryong also urged Japan on Thursday to take action to resolve the issue so that both countries could successfully co-host next year's World Cup soccer finals.

Thorny textbook issues
Dismisses Nanjing Massacre in China as "nothing like a holocaust"
Describes invasion of Korea as an annexation necessary for Japan's security
Claims Japanese rule prepared Asian countries for independence from European colonial masters

"One must not erase or distort confirmed facts," Mr Choi said in a Tokyo seminar.

Japan's Education Ministry has said that more than 100 changes to the text have already been made to the book, which was written by a group of nationalistic historians.

The authors claim that existing texts go too far to accommodate the views of victims in Japan's wartime activities.

They argue that wartime rule from Tokyo benefited south-east Asian countries by preparing them for independence.

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See also:

09 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Court battle over Japan school books
09 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan and South Korea's troubled relations
05 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japanese history gets rewrite
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
29 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Japan overturns sex slave ruling
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