China and South Korea blasted the Japanese government following the revision of Japanese elementary textbooks to include several disputed islands as part of Japan’s “sovereign territory.” The textbooks indicate the islands in question as belonging to Japan and describing South Korea’s possession of the Takeshima islets as illegal.
South Korea protested the move through its First Vice Minister Cho Tae-yong, who called the Japanese ambassador in Seoul to warn that there will be further strain on bilateral ties because of it. “If (Japanese) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who declared just three weeks ago he stands by the ‘Kono Statement’ now tries to conduct education for elementary school children that distorts and hides its history of colonial invasion, he is not only breaking his own promise but also committing the mistake of isolating its next generation from international society,” said the ministry spokesperson in reference to the 1993 public apology made by then-cabinet secretary Yohei Kono. Through the statement, Japan acknowledged the hand of its Imperial Army in the forcible recruitment of sex slaves during wartime.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei called for Japan to take a “sincere attitude” in recognizing history. “Japan should teach its next generation in these textbooks that the Diaoyus are China’s, and that Japan has illegally snatched them away,” said Hong. He added, “It neglects the facts, wantonly blackens China’s name and unreasonably criticizes China. We are extremely concerned and very dissatisfied.” Both China and South Korea suffered heavily under Japanese expansionism during the war. Abe has been exerting efforts to mend strained ties with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in the last months after pressure from the United States.