E. Asian Nations Seek Common History Textbook
By Na Jeong-ju
Cheong Wa Dae welcomed Thursday the Japanese foreign minister's proposal for South Korea, China and Japan to write a common history textbook, but said it won't be easy and could take a long time.
"It is a good idea to make a textbook based on a common recognition of the past histories of the three East Asian countries," a presidential spokesman said. "However, it will be a long-term and painstaking project."
The reaction came one day after Minister Katsuya Okada said it would be "ideal" for the three nations to come together for the project.
"Ideally in the future, we need to have a common history textbook," Okada was quoted as saying by the Sankei Shimbun during a lecture at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.
"As a first step toward the publication of the textbook, the three countries are to implement a joint study of history."
This is the first time that Japan has officially mentioned the need to publish a common history textbook.
South Korean officials said it showed Japan's willingness to address disputes with Korea and China over Tokyo's alleged distortion of history and to seek future-oriented relations in East Asia.
The textbook issue is likely to be on the agenda when the leaders of the three countries meet in Beijing, Saturday.
Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama will visit Seoul today for a bilateral summit with President Lee on his way to Beijing.
Japanese history textbooks have been a major source of diplomatic rows in East Asia.
Early this year, the Japanese government approved history textbooks for junior high schools, authored by nationalistic scholars, which justify Japan's colonial rule of Korea from 1910 to 1945 and glosses over its invasion of other nations during WWII.
Minister Okada also said he backs a 1995 statement by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, which states Japan inflicted tremendous damage and suffering on Asian and other countries through its colonial rule and aggression.
"But, in the past, some ministers made remarks that run counter to the spirit of the Murayama pledge," Okada said, adding he will make efforts to ensure there will be no such remarks in the future from government officials.