Photo: Japanese history textbooks that describe Korean conscripts as "volunteers." Credit: Yonhap.
Although the Yoon Suk-yeol 윤석열 administration has attempted to portray its capitulation in the slave laborer deal as Seoul taking the initiative to extend its hand, Tokyo has responded by continuing its denial of history and demanding more concessions on sensitive bilateral issues. (See previous coverage, “The Shambolic Slave Laborer Deal.”)
On March 28, Japan’s Ministry of Education announced revisions to official history textbooks for third- to sixth-grade students. The new textbooks describe conscripted Koreans during World War II as “volunteers” and remove references to the 1923 Kanto Massacre, in which the Japanese lynch mobs indiscriminately killed as many as 6k Koreans over false rumors that Koreans were engaged in looting following a massive earthquake.
In addition to their erasure of history, the revised textbooks also added further details elaborating Japan’s claim on the Dokdo Islets (known internationally as Liancourt Rocks,) the easternmost point of South Korea’s territory, which Japan has claimed since Korea’s independence. The textbooks claim that South Korea is “illegally occupying” the islets