Japan has dismissed South Korea’s protest over the alleged distortion of historical and territorial facts in Japan’s new high school textbooks that were approved on Tuesday.
After the approval of the textbooks, South Korea filed a complaint against Japan for downplaying the forced labor and sexual slavery of Koreans during World War II.
In a statement released by South Korea’s foreign ministry, the government expressed “deep regrets” that the textbooks downplay the “violation of human rights of women in wartime as well as a violation of universal human rights.” The statement also explained that the textbooks made “futile claims” about South Korea having illegal ownership of the Dokdo Islands, which Japan claims as its own.
The Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, Hirokazu Matsuno, held a press conference in which he described the complaints by South Korea as “unacceptable.”
“We objected to the protest as unacceptable based on our consistent stance,” Matusuno said. “It is natural for children to understand their country’s territory and history accurately through education in a sovereign nation.”
The textbooks underwent examinations by the Education Ministry prior to being granted approval, which show that publishers were advised to state that the Dokdo Islands, known as Takeshima in Japan, are an “inherent part” of Japanese territory. The publishers were also asked to edit the phrase “forcibly taken” when describing wartime laborers, into wording that aligns with the Japanese government’s current stance.
Amid the ongoing historical and territorial clashes between Japan and South Korea, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed hope in building healthier ties once South Korean President-Elect Yoon Suk-yeol takes office.