"Japan ignites rage over island disputes again"

Japan to put claim to disputed islands in school textbooks

According to various reports (although mainly from the Yomiuri Shimbun), The Education, Science and Technology Ministry, in its social studies textbooks for middle schools, will include a description of the islets—known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in Korea— over which Japan and South Korea claim sovereignty, as Japanese territory.

The curriculum for the books are revised every ten years and when the Ministry publicly announced the revised social studies curriculum guideline in March, it did not state that Japan has sovereignty over the islets. However, “according to sources close to the government, political considerations at the time were behind the decision not to include a description asserting Japanese sovereignty over the islets…but the decision dissatisfied some members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party,” says the Yomiuri Shimbun.

The textbooks are likely to be completed by July for use in April 2012.

According to Korean Yonhap News agency, President Lee Myung-bak has asked Japan to give up the alleged textbook attempt: “President Lee instructed Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan to look into some media reports alleging the Japanese government is pushing to revise its school teacher guidelines to describe Dokdo as part of Japanese territory,” Lee’s spokesperson Lee Dong-kwan said in a press briefing.”

Yonhap continues, “Lee also ordered that the foreign minister ask Japan to rectify the Dokdo issue, if the Japanese government’s move is found to be true,” said the spokesperson, adding that Minister Yu is to give a detailed media briefing on the issue later on Monday.” Likewise, The Korea Times claims that “Political parties here have unanimously condemned the move as a “challenge” to South Korea’s sovereignty.”

Obviously Japan has ignited another round of anger over its territorial disputes, a huge setback considering Japanese PM Fukuda and Korean PM Lee Myung-bak have been working on moving forward and rebuilding relations between the two countries. However, if Korean textbooks also do the same thing and claim that the islands are theirs, why do the global media focus more on the Japan issue, and nothing on Korean textbooks? Is it just because Japan make less of a fuss about it? Or are the textbooks issues representative of Japan’s past militarism rather than the present situation?

Daily Yomiuri: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080518TDY01304.htm

AFP: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hkQSh1Hi9wYjXsaQPDOa91LZNLgA

Korea Times: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2008/05/123_24378.html



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Comments

It's Japanese media that has been making the "problem" between two countries. All I want to say is "君たち、静かにしてくれ"

It is amazing that these tiny rocks are the source of such friction. While some Japanese people feel very strongly about it, popular sentiment is much more widespread in Korea. Imagine the political capital a Japanese PM would gain with Korea if he abandoned the Japanese claim?

Yes, it would be a short-term nightmare domestically, and the right wing would be outraged about it, but ultimately, Japan could ask for anything in return from favorable EEZ boundaries to silence on other bilateral controversies. It would gain Japan international prestige and move its regional relations onto a new page. On the other hand, it would get a lot of pressure to sort out its debates with China and Russia which are more complicated, mainly because they involves oil.... buit at least it would have Seoul as an ally.

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