Japan waters down wartime wrongdoings, ups territorial claim in new school textbooks

The Japanese government on Tuesday approved new textbooks, apparently watering down the coercive nature of its wartime wrongdoings and intensifying its sovereignty claim to Dokdo, for use by the country's elementary school students starting in 2024.

Tokyo's education ministry announced that 149 textbooks have passed its review, a move that came in spite of Seoul's efforts to improve its bilateral ties with the neighbor amid Washington's campaign for bolstering the trilateral security partnership.

Yonhap News Agency analyzed relevant parts in a sample of those textbooks and found that a description of Japan's atrocities against Koreans during its 1910-45 colonization of the peninsula has been watered down.

For those who were forced to serve in Japan's military during World War II, a current textbook says Korean men were conscripted as soldiers. But a new version, endorsed by the ministry, describes them as "having participated in" the military. A caption of a related photo read that they applied to become soldiers, apparently backing Japan's longtime assertion that Koreans joined its imperial military "voluntarily."

Another textbook dropped the expression "conscription" itself.

On Dokdo, a set of Seoul-controlled rocky outcroppings in the East Sea, the textbooks say they are Tokyo's indigenous territory, with the world "illegal" added for what it claims to be South Korea's occupation.

Source: Yonhap News Agency