S. Korea protests Japan’s territorial claim in revised textbook guidelines

SEOUL/TOKYO, -- South Korea voiced strong protest Wednesday against Japan's renewed territorial claim to Dokdo in its revised textbook guidelines for highschool students.

Japan's education ministry posted a draft version of the revised guidelines on Tokyo's e-government website for public view. If finalized, they are expected to apply to high school textbooks in phases from 2022.

"Our government expresses our deep regrets that the Japanese government has made unjustifiable claim about our inherent territory, Dokdo... and demands its immediate withdrawal," the foreign ministry said in a commentary issued by the name of its spokesman.

"The Japanese government should clearly recognize that the newly disclosed draft of the highschool textbook guidelines will not only imbue its next generation of students with wrong territorial perceptions but also have negative impact on our future-oriented bilateral ties," it added.

The ministry also called in Koichi Mizushima, minister and deputy head of Japan's Embassy in Seoul, to lodge an official protest with the Japanese government.

Last year, Japan unveiled its textbook guidelines for elementary and middle school students, ordering them to be taught that Dokdo, called Takeshima in Japan, is its territory. But this is the first time that Tokyo has specified its territorial claim in guidelines for high school textbooks.

The guidelines serve as state-enforced standards for writing textbooks.

Dokdo, which lies closer to South Korea in the East Sea, has long been a source of tension between the neighbors.

South Korea has kept a small police detachment on Dokdo since its liberation from Japan in 1945 and has made clear that Tokyo's claims are groundless.

Japan has been seeking to bolster its territorial claims to the islets in school curricula.

In 2008, it stated for the first time in its educational handbooks for middle schools -- lower-level of guidelines -- that Japan and South Korea have differences in their claims with regard to Dokdo. South Korea called in its ambassador to Tokyo in protest.

The latest controversy is expected to add to diplomatic challenges facing the two countries after their ties have been over a 2015 deal they reached to resolve the longrunning feud over Japan's wartime sexual slavery of Korean women.

In January, the Seoul government said that the comfort women issue has not been resolved by the deal and emphasized that "relevant" countries should help the victims recover their dignity and heal their wounds from the harrowing wartime experience.

Japan has protested against changing the government-to-government deal, saying any attempt to modify or scrap it could negatively affect bilateral relations between the neighbors.

Historians estimate that up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced to work in front-line brothels for Japanese troops during World War II. Korea was under Japan's colonial rule from 1910-45.

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Source: Yonhap News Agency

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