SOUTH KOREA-JAPAN Seoul Criticizes Tokyo History Book Review

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The Ministry of Education has released textbook assessments pointing to 14 ‘non-compliant’ passages in the 2021 resolution the government has called inappropriate regarding the Imperial Army’s role in forced labor and ‘comfort women’ “. Korean civil society protests: Commitment to honestly dealing with historical facts ignored.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – In few places in the world like East Asia, contemporary history is experienced as part of the present. In particular, the memory of World War II and the Japanese Imperial Government is still a subject that arouses very strong feelings in the collective consciousness of some countries in the region, and the historical revisionism that winds its way in some circles in Tokyo does not help not the process of reconciliation nearly 77 years after the end of this terrible interlude.

Last week, the Japanese Ministry of Education published the results of its textbook evaluations for the school year which will begin in the spring of next year. Attracting particular attention are the volumes published for history-geography and civic education courses, in particular the passages on Japanese colonial rule in Korea.

The two thorniest topics are Korean workers forced into forced labor in Japan during the World War and comfort women (better known as comfort women), a euphemism by which the victims of the state program that supplied prostitutes to the imperial army are designated.

The book publishers have revised the wording of passages describing these topics to fit a resolution passed by the cabinet in April 2021 following a parliamentary question. In this resolution, the cabinet determined that it was inappropriate to describe the Korean workers present in Japan during the war as “brought in by force” and that references to the imperial army should be removed from any involvement in the recruitment of women. of comfort.

Thanks to a reform introduced by Shinzo Abe in 2014, the government has a major influence on the publishing choices of textbooks. Essentially, when writing volumes for use in classrooms, editors must adhere to the official position taken by the government and include it in the information submitted.

In addition to the changes already made by the editors, the ministry committee identified 14 other passages that did not comply with the resolution. One editor expressed concern about the text changes, noting that “to receive approval [for use in classrooms]we will have to make revisions in accordance with what the evaluation committee has said.”

reactions were strong in Korea, where civil society frowned on the removal of the military’s role in the Korean comfort women case from school textbooks. The Asia Peace and History Education Network accused the Japanese government of backtracking on commitments made in the 1993 Kono Yohei Declaration, in which Japan acknowledged its responsibility and used school education to “honestly deal with historical facts” and to “take seriously the lessons of history.”

As a new government will soon take office in Seoul, the question of historical memory and Japanese revisionism therefore continues. dominate relations between the two Asian neighbors tense.

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