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South Korea protests Japan’s textbooks depicting false claims over territorial dispute

29 March: South Korea protests Japan’s textbooks over territorial dispute South Korea expressed its objection to Japan over its approval of new school textbooks. Seoul says the textbooks have false claims by Japan over disputed islands.

Japan’s education ministry on Tuesday authorized the textbooks to be used in elementary schools from April next year. The books state Japan’s position on the Takeshima Islands in the Sea of Japan. South Korea occupies the islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan’s territory. It says South Korea is occupying them illegally.

In a statement released on Tuesday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said the textbooks have false statements. It rejected any Japanese claims over the islands as unacceptable.

The textbooks also have Japan’s stance on the issue of wartime labor. A group of South Koreans is demanding compensation on the grounds that they or their relatives were forced to work for Japanese firms during World War Two.

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South Korea’s foreign ministry expressed deep regret over what it called Japan’s weakening of the coercive nature of the labor in its description of the issue.

The ministry said a correct recognition of history is essential to the future-oriented development of bilateral ties. It added Japan must face history and act responsibly.

South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong on Tuesday summoned the deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy, Kumagai Naoki, to protest.

Kumagai rebutted the claims, saying Takeshima is an inherent part of Japanese territory, both historically and in terms of international law. He also dismissed South Korea’s claims on the wartime labor issue.

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