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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on April 3)

All Headlines 06:52 April 03, 2017


Japan's faulty textbooks
Tokyo should stop teaching lies about Dokdo

Japan approved new education guidelines last week to ensure for the first time that all of its elementary and middle schools teach students that Dokdo is an integral part of Japanese territory. Tokyo also just approved several social studies textbooks that claim Korea's easternmost islets belong to Japan.

Since previous education guidelines did not mention Dokdo, many Koreans are concerned that Tokyo is reinforcing a distorted history education for future generations on baseless territorial claims. The guidelines, which are renewed every 10 years, will be fully applied to the elementary school curriculum starting in 2020 and in middle schools the following year.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs rightly called on Japan to withdraw the new guidelines on Dokdo and lodged a complaint with Hideo Suzuki, minister and deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. The Ministry of Education also strongly denounced Japan, saying that its claim of sovereignty over Dokdo is "no different from its imperialist aggression of the past." Japan should always remember that its wartime atrocities have brought despair and suffering to Korea and many other countries.

It is highly regrettable that Tokyo has once again asserted its sovereignty over Dokdo amid escalating tension between the two neighbors over historical rows. Even before Tokyo's renewed claims to Dokdo, the two countries had not been able to resolve their differences over the issue of "comfort women" statues in front of Tokyo's diplomatic missions in Korea. A prolonged absence of Japan's top envoy in Korea has severely hampered bilateral diplomacy. Tokyo recalled Ambassador Yasumasa Nagamine in January and he has not yet resumed his duties in Seoul.

History education must be based solely on facts and the truth. Dokdo is an indisputable part of Korean territory from ancient times, based on historical facts and international law. Japan should withdraw the new education guidelines that will pave the way for its schools to teach illegitimate claims on Dokdo.

Its attempt to reinforce its sovereignty over Dokdo will further damage bilateral relations. Tokyo should take note of the fact Korea has done a lot to keep bilateral relations moving forward. Despite strong opposition from the people and the victims of wartime sexual slavery, the Korean government has emphasized a consistent implementation of the 2015 bilateral deal on resolving the comfort women issue. Seoul also signed an information-sharing accord ― the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) ― last November with Tokyo despite negative public opinion.

Now it is Japan's turn to show that it is willing to establish future-oriented relations with Korea. We urge Japan to abandon its wrongful territorial claims and send its ambassador back to Korea as soon as possible.
(END)

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