A historian yesterday urged the government to use the latest controversy over Japanese history textbooks to redefine the relationship between the two countries.
The scholar also called for countermeasures to deal with Japan's much- criticized move.
``This case proves that Korea's efforts for a better relationship have been fruitless since the 1965 normalization of bilateral ties with Japan, and that Kim Dae-jung government's conciliatory policy toward the country failed to put to rest the tragedies during the colonial rule,'' said Lee Sin-cheol, director-general of the Institute for Korea Historical Studies.
Upon taking office, President Kim visited Japan to strengthen ties and soon lifted bans on the inflow of Japanese pop culture. Korean people also expected that the two countries' old rivalry would die down through co- hosting the upcoming world soccer event.
Recently, however, the island nation, at least seemingly, has rekindled anti-Japanese sentiments among Koreans as it is moving to adopt a revised middle school history textbook, starting from 2002.
The new version of the textbook contains distorted descriptions of its past brutalities against locals during its 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea and other Asian countries during World War II, glorifying or taking out some facts.
More specifically, the textbook states that Japan's invasion of Korea ``was acknowledged by the world,'' with no mention of the Choson independence movement.
Also, no reference was made to wartime sex slaves, or comfort women, because of Japan's effort to hide its inhumane activities.
Lee said, ``The problem is that, as time goes by, rightists addicted to nationalism are gaining more clout in Japanese society.''
He added that this case presents good evidence of this trend, citing that commercial Japanese publishers want to make textbooks with rightist contents because the government is sympathetic to those sectors of society. …