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Stop distorting history's lessons
China Daily  Updated: 2005-03-19 05:33

An attempt to justify Japan's colonization of Korea by revising a history textbook for use in secondary schools is adding fuel to ongoing bilateral disputes that have come back into public focus recently with renewed Japanese claims to a group of Korean islets in the East (China) Sea.

The situation is deeply deplorable for the two nations, who have vowed to free themselves from the shackles of the unfortunate past and look forward to a brighter future by building mutual trust and friendship.

A group of Japanese attempting to rewrite history in accordance with ultra-rightist views submitted a revised history textbook to the Japanese Education Ministry for approval.

The group claims that Japan helped modernize Korea and saved it from the threats of China and Russia when it annexed its neighbour for colonial rule in 1910. It also claims territorial rights to Dokdo, the rocky islets under the control of Korea.

Not only does the revised textbook contain misguided descriptions, it also omits historical facts about Japan's shameful acts of cruelty. But will it conceal what the Japanese imperialists really did -- forcing Korean women into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers, mobilizing Korean men for labour under dehumanizing conditions, and even pressuring Korean families to abandon their names and adopt Japanese ones?

In the past, the Japanese Government has often attempted to deflect criticisms from the Korean people and government against misguided and historically inaccurate textbooks, claiming that there is a limit to what it can do about private publishing companies. But that is only a lame excuse. If that is true, why does it screen textbooks for authorization in the first place?

The Japanese Government and people are advised to resist extremist attempts by right-wingers to whitewash history just because the facts are unsavory to them. They will have to remind themselves that they cannot build friendship with or win respect from Korea and other neighbours by embellishing or denying what the Japanese imperialists actually did against them.

Excerpts from The Korea Herald, Republic of Korea.

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