Starting next year, high school history textbooks in Japan will stop using the word “wartime” to describe victims of wartime sex slavery in Japan, and “forced” to describe Korean laborers forced to work during Japan’s annexation of Korea.
Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced on Tuesday that it had completed a review of 239 textbooks that will be used by sophomores, juniors and seniors in high schools from next year.
The textbooks include 14 on Japanese history or world history.
The ministry said adjustments to phrases used in the textbooks included replacing “forced arrest” and “forced conscription” with “mobilization” and “conscription” to describe the history of forced laborers in Japan, including Koreans during of the Japanese annexation of 1910-1945. from Korea.
It is estimated that around 500,000 Koreans were subjected to forced labor in Japan during this period.
Changes were also made to descriptions of so-called “comfort women”, a euphemism for women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military before and during the Pacific War. Estimates of comfort women range from tens of thousands to 410,000, many of Korean descent.
The ministry said the word “wartime” will be dropped when describing comfort women.
The issues of comfort women and forced labor have led to a deterioration of bilateral relations in recent years.
On October 30, 2018, the Korean Supreme Court ordered the Japanese company Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal to compensate victims of forced labor during World War II.
The Supreme Court issued a similar decision on November 29, 2018, ordering Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to compensate a separate group of victims from 80 to 150 million won each.
Korea’s highest court upheld the illegality of Japan’s colonial rule and acknowledged that the individuals’ rights to compensation had not expired.
Japan protested the decisions, saying all compensation issues related to its colonial rule had been resolved by a 1965 treaty normalizing bilateral relations.
Both Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi have refused to comply with the rulings of Korea’s top court, forcing the victims into a drawn-out legal process to seize the assets of Japanese companies in Korea.
Seoul and Tokyo attempted to address the comfort women issue through an agreement signed on December 26, 2015, which included an apology from the Japanese government and a 1 billion yen ($8.2 million) fund. for the victims.
Some civic organizations and survivors felt caught off guard by the agreement and demanded that Japan take clearer legal responsibility. Moon Jae-in administration says it won’t abandon 2015 bilateral deal, though it’s ‘flawed’, but says it’s not a real solution to the problem .
The Seoul Central District Court ruled on Jan. 8, 2021, that the Japanese government should individually compensate about a dozen women who were forced into wartime sex slavery by the Japanese military during World War II, dismissing claims Tokyo state immunity claims, claiming Japan committed systemic actions. crimes against humanity in violation of international rules and standards. Japan protested the decision.
Japanese history books for the next year also pointed out that the Dokdo islets, called Takeshima in Japan, are Japanese territory.
Seoul maintains that there is no territorial dispute because the islets of Dokdo in the East Sea are historically, geographically and under international law an integral part of Korean territory.
The “government strongly protests that the Japanese government has once again authorized textbooks containing its absurd claims about Dokdo, which is clearly an integral part of [Korean] territory in terms of history, geography and international law,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam said in a statement on Wednesday.
Choi added that the changes to the descriptions of victims of forced labor and comfort women “dilute their coercive nature.”
PARLEEYOUNG-HEE, ESTHERCHUNG[[email protected]]