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Home » Archives » February 2007 » Japan and Korea Create Common History Book

Japan and Korea Create Common History Book

Saturday, February 10, 2007 Posted: 09:30 PM JST

(by Yuiko Kato) - Historians in Japan and South Korea have completed a supplementary common history reader for high school students. It is the first time the two countries, with a history fraught with controversy, have worked together to produce a history book for high schools. The book, titled "Nikkan Kouryu no Rekishi" (The History of Exchange Between Japan and Korea) covers the prehistory to modern history of the two countries. The groundbreaking project took 10 years to accomplish.

Controversy over history textbooks is one of the main diplomatic problems between Japan and Korea. Each country insists on a different perspective on wars, as well as how Japan treated Korea.

Some 36 historians at Tokyo Gakugei University and The University of Seoul shared the writing of the book. Each issue was discussed exhaustively to come to mutual consent.

For example, Japanese textbooks have always described Japanese Invasions of Korea as "Toyotomi Hideyoshi dispatching troops." After suggestions by Korean researchers that it was not right to only make Toyotomi Hideyoshi responsible for these actions, the text was changed to "Japanese invasions of Korea."

One issue that has especially been controversial has been the legality of Japan's annexation of Korea in 1910. The book has diplomatically avoided the legality issue, and instead gives a detailed description of the process and facts leading up to this event.

In addition to Japanese invasions and wars, the book also describes cultural activities, citizen movements and the horny issue of Zainichi Koreans (Koreans living in Japan).

Professor Chung Jae-jeong, of the University of Seoul, was involved with the publication of "Nikkan Kouryu no Rekishi" from the beginning. In a February 8 interview with Chunichi Shinbun the historian said that "by showing that our two countries can talk and write about history based on fact,� he wanted to appeal to Koreans with Anti-Japan feelings.

"Nikkan Kouryu no Rekishi" will be published by Akashi Shoten on March 1.

Keywords: national_news

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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
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