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Controversial Japanese history textbook approved

Posted April. 03, 2001 18:04,   


A much revised version of a controversial middle school textbook written by a group of right-wing revisionist historians was approved by Japan`s Ministry of Education and Science Tuesday.

The ministry announced that it approved the Fusosha`s middle school history book and revised editions of seven existing textbooks.

The society`s textbook was approved after the distorted descriptions that were criticized by Korea and other countries were drastically modified. The revised sections included passages claiming Japan was justified in instituting colonial rule over Korea (1910-1945) and supporting its policies at the time.

The textbook also added new information related to the suffering of Koreans during the colonial period. The description that Japan`s annexation of Korea was done legally and with the support of world powers was changed to show that the annexation was carried out through military suppression.

The textbook does not mention the Korean ``comfort women`` who were forced to become sexual slaves for Japanese soldiers. The seven existing textbooks also watered down descriptions of comfort women or substituted the word ``advance`` for ``invasion.``

Tatsuya Osuki, chief of the ministry`s textbook department, said that the government has a right to advise textbook writers to modify content after the evaluation, but admitted that it was difficult to do so except in cases of new historical discoveries, changed statistics or new legislation. He also said that publishing firms have no obligation to accept the ministry`s advice, indicating that the ministry would not comply with any request by Korea or other countries to implement further revisions to its textbooks.

Minister Nobutaka Machimura said in a statement that the ministry`s textbook evaluation was not to judge the author`s understanding of history, but to point out defects in concrete descriptions. Japanese government spokesman Yasuo Fukuda said Tokyo would make efforts to promote mutual understanding and confidence with neighboring countries in the days to come.

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Shim Kyu-Sun ksshim@donga.com