Japanese High School Textbooks Assert Claim to Dokdo

  • By Lee Ha-won

    March 31, 2021 13:19

    All Japanese social studies textbooks for first-year high schoolers will assert Tokyo's flimsy colonial claim to Korea's Dokdo islets from next year.

    The claim is stressed by 30 high-school social studies textbooks newly authorized by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on Tuesday.

    Eighteen geography and civics textbooks also parrot the claim, which has become a rallying point for rightwingers in the island country.

    They describe the islets "occupied illegally by Korea" or "Japan's inherent territory." Twelve history textbooks purport to describe the "process of how the islets were absorbed as Japanese territory."

    The Japanese government, led by the rightwing Liberal Democratic Party, issued teacher guidelines pushing the territorial claim in 2018, and textbook publishers now seem to have fallen in line.

    A Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman in a statement urged Japan to "correct the wrongs immediately," while denouncing Tokyo for "again authorizing textbooks with a false claim to Dokdo."

    The barely habitable rocks were Korean until Korea's annexation by Japan in 1910, but in the postwar confusion the U.S. victors simply forgot them, so Korea eventually took them back of its own initiative. They have since become a symbol of the neighbors’ fractious relationship, spurred by the discovery of rich fishing grounds and potential underwater resources there.

    Meanwhile, few textbooks teach the truth about wartime sexual salves forced into service by the imperial government. But one by Yamakawa Publishing, which has the largest market share in Japan, presents a more candid account, saying Japan set up brothels at war sites and forced or deceived some women to bring them there for its soldiers. 

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