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    Sea of Japan : Dokdo Islets

    Seoul uneasy on forthcoming Japanese history textbooks
    Kang Hyun-kyung
    03-17-2011


    Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Kim Sung-hwan asks South Koreans to stay at least 80 kilometers away from a quake-stricken nuclear power plant in Japan at a monthly press briefing for both domestic and foreign press held in Seoul, Thursday.
    Yonhap

    The Japanese education authorities’ plan to release textbooks describing the Dokdo Islets as Japan’s territory later this month is raising concern among Seoul officials.

    If the textbooks are released as scheduled renewed territorial disputes over the island will be unavoidable between the two nations.

    The timing of the publication of textbooks for middle school students in Japan coincides with the sweeping sympathetic mood here toward the neighboring country after the massive earthquake and tsunami pounded its northeastern region.

    Kim Sung-hwan, minister of foreign affairs and trade, told reporters Thursday that the territorial issue and relief efforts following the earthquake were separate.

    During a monthly briefing, Kim said Seoul will deal with the territory issue “in an appropriate manner.”

    In a speech Wednesday Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik called on the general public to remain calm and react in a mature way, even if several middle school textbooks mention Japan’s claim over Dokdo.

    “I hope the textbook issue doesn’t cause a stir,” he said. Despite this, the chances of a reaction from South Koreans are high.

    “I want that we, South Koreans, will react to the textbook issue differently this time (as Japan is dealing with the worst ever earthquake now),” Kim said.

    In 2008, the Japanese authorities announced controversial guidelines that recommended publishers of textbooks include the description that South Korea has illegally occupied Dokdo.

    This angered South Koreans, prompting anti-Japanese rallies.

    Sources said several textbooks to be released later this month will follow the guidelines, suggesting a second dispute over the territory is likely.

    The scheduled release of the textbooks came after Japan was devastated by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and a resultant tsunami last Friday.

    The media headlines over the tragedy after the most powerful earthquake in the history of Japan saddened South Koreans. Nationwide donations have poured in to help the victims.

    koreatimes.co.kr

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    This aerial photograph of Dokdo Island shows both the East Islet (right) and West Islet. The East Islet has a watchtower and living facilities for the ROKs Police Guards as well as a hellicopter pad. The West Islet is home to Dokdo’s long-tme permanent residents, Kim Seong Do and his wife Kim Shin Yeol.

    Dokdo Takeshima

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