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Foreign minister concerned about Japanese textbooks

TOKYO (Yonhap News) ― South Korea’s foreign minister voiced concern about possible negative effects that the upcoming outcome of Japan’s review of new middle school textbooks could have on relations between the two countries, according to an interview published Tuesday.

Japanese school texts accused of glorifying the country’s wartime past have long been considered a thorn in relations between Seoul and Tokyo as resentment about Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula still runs deep among South Koreans.

Japan’s government is currently conducting a review of 21 new history and other middle school textbooks and is expected to announce its results in March or April.

Seoul’s Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said in an interview with Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun published Tuesday that it would be undesirable for the outcome of the textbook review to negatively affect relations between the two countries.

Kim said the two countries should begin a third round of joint history research at an early date and that the result of the joint research should be reflected in school textbooks, according to the interview.

The minister also said South Korea wants to further expand and deepen relations with Japan. Kim is scheduled to visit Tokyo on Wednesday and Thursday for talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara.

On North Korea, Kim told the paper that it is meaningless for the communist nation to talk about denuclearization, stressing that Pyongyang should take concrete action to back its words.

Kim also called for North Korea to take responsibility for last year’s provocations ― the March sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the November shelling of the South’s border island of Yeonpyeong.

Relations between South Korea and Japan have been in good shape after Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan offered a renewed apology in August for Tokyo’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, promising to return centuries-old royal Korean books to Seoul and take other steps backing up the apology. 

(Yonhap News)