Ministry to Take Actions Against History Distortion by Japan, China

Seoul to Take Actions Against History Distortion

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development has pledged to take action against attempts by Japan and China to distort history in textbooks.

The ministry yesterday said that it plans to launch a task force of officials, scholars and experts to monitor history distortions by the two countries and support activities by civic groups to fight the distortions.

The move came after a revised 2005 history textbook by Fuso Publishing Co. in Japan sparked controversy for its attempt to gloss over Japan's wartime atrocities.

The textbook was written by a group of rightwing Japanese scholars.

The task force will closely examine Japanese middle school history textbooks which Japanese authorities will decide whether to approve by the end of this month.

The ministry is to invite Japanese educational officials and teachers to a discussion on the matter in March.

The Academy of Korean Studies will also conduct seminars on March 18-21 with Japanese education-related officials to curb attempts to whitewash Japanese history.

In addition, the ministry will launch a team of more than 30 local and foreign scholars to contribute stories about history distortion to newspapers of both Korea and Japan.

The ministry has vowed to take action in early April when Japan is expected to announce its approval of the textbooks and to use all means to stop Japan from adopting textbooks that distort Korean history, in cooperation with civic group activists and scholars.

The ministry also plans to expand the function and the period of a joint history committee consisting of experts from Korea, Japan and China.

It will also set up a history educational division and will review the distortions in textbooks in joint research projects.

Around May, the education ministry will publish and distribute leaflets to raise public awareness of the issue.

It also plans to take extraordinary measures against the move for history distortion by China in Koguryo, supporting research institutes such as the Koguryo Research Foundation and seeking ways for academic exchanges with North Korea.

Koguryo was an ancient Korean kingdom stretching from the upper Korean Peninsula to northeast China, inlcuding Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces between 37 B.C. and 668 A.D.

Koreans have no doubt that the kingdom is part of Korean history, but some Chinese scholars have recently claimed that it was a regional kingdom that belonged to China.

Former Education and Human Resources Development Minister Ahn Byung-young sent a letter expressing concern over the move to gloss over its history in their textbooks to the Japanese education ministry last September.

Ahn also set up a task force to deal with history distortion in textbooks in cooperation with a joint history committee of Korea and Japan and the Academy of Korean Studies.

By Chung Ah-young / Staff Reporter

(Korea Times 2005-3-6)