By Michael Martina
China urged Japan on Tuesday to properly educate its youth, joining South Korea in condemning Japan’s approval of textbooks its neighbours say distort history by claiming disputed islands.
South Korea summoned Japan’s ambassador on Monday and warned that the approval of the textbooks was a sign the country was prepared to repeat its colonial wartime past.
South Korea sees Japan’s claims to the disputed islands, called Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese, as stemming from its colonisation of the Korean peninsula from 1910 until Japan’s World War Two defeat in 1945.
Japan and China also have a dispute over East China Sea islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Japan should “adopt a responsible attitude toward history” and “educate the next young generation with correct historical views”.
“No matter what means Japan adopts to publicise its mistaken position, there is no way it can change the fundamental fact that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China,” Hua told reporters at a regular briefing.
Japan should reflect on its history of militarism and wartime atrocities in Nanjing, Hua said, referring to the 1937 massacre in which China says Japanese troops killed 300,000 people in its then Chinese capital.
Japan’s ties with China and South Korea have long been marred over what its two Asian neighbours say is Japanese leaders’ reluctance to atone for its wartime conduct.
The protests over the textbooks came just weeks after the foreign ministers of the three countries pledged to improve ties and overcome tension caused by history and territorial disputes, and to try to work for a summit meeting of their leaders soon.
Japan-China ties remain cool despite Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time last November. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has yet to have a two-way summit with Abe.