Japan from the inside out

New Japan-related controversies in South Korea

Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A controversy has erupted in South Korea regarding the certification of junior high school history textbooks to be adopted for use next year by a panel from the National Institute of Korean History.

The Institute’s panel asked the nine publishing companies submitting textbooks for certification to remove the term “sexual slavery” in regard to the wartime comfort women. They also recommended that the term “King of Japan” be replaced by Tenno, the Japanese term for the Emperor.

Jeong Jin-hu, a member of the National Assembly’s Education, Science, and Technology Committee, said he had obtained the recommended revisions and analyzed them. The certification process was completed on 31 August. Declared Mr. Jeong, who is unaffiliated with a party and a PR member:

“In contrast to President Lee’s sudden visit to Dokdo and reference to the “South Korean-Japan History War”, the institute has adopted a Japan-friendly stance in the history textbooks junior high school students use…I cannot understand why the term “sexual slavery” used by the government is being omitted from the books”.

The table shown in the above photograph is a request submitted to one of the publishers to amend their text containing the expression “military comfort women (sexual slaves)” in two places. The screening committee asked that they remove the words “sexual slaves”. The phrase was initially removed, according to the Korean report.

But the group who wrote the textbook said that leaving only the expression “comfort women” prevents the inclusion of language that the Japanese military at the time subjected the women to immoral violence. They objected to the revision, and pointed out that the term “sexual slavery” has already been accepted internationally.

The institute compromised with the textbook authors and allowed them to use the phrase “forced to live a daily life of sexual slavery”. Some people objected to this phrase, too:

“The behavior of the Institute’s committee recommending the removal of the phrase “sexual slavery”, which is officially used in history textbooks both internationally and in South Korea, is a grave error.”

One publishing company made the requested changes to the expression “King of Japan” in three locations of its textbook. Another was asked to remove the word “protective” in The Eulsa Protective Treaty of 1905 in five places.

This is fascinating for several reasons.

* Those who objected to the changes did not cite historical accuracy as the reason. One of their concerns was that they had gotten sources overseas to buy into the concept of sexual slavery. Removing that phrase from the textbook undercuts their position.

* There is now recognition that the “King of Japan” expression is a petty indulgence they can no longer afford, and is an obstacle to restoring normal Japan-Korean relations. (It seems to have first come into common use 15-20 years ago.)

* The National Institute of Korean History is no longer willing to support the charge of sexual slavery compelled by the Japanese military. The historians at the institute evidently think this charge cannot be justified.

* The phrase they compromised on is very similar to the phrase now used by one of the original Japanese comfort woman historians, Yoshimi Yoshiaki. Mr. Yoshimi first said he had evidence that the Japanese military forcibly abducted women. His evidence was shown to be nothing of the sort. He has now modified his position to say that social conditions at the time forced the women to sign up.

* Tracking the future career path of the people on the panel who recommended the change might be educational in itself.

* Mr. Jeung referred to the “South Korea-Japan History War”. Those are his exact words. His attitude speaks for itself.

* The report in South Korea was immediately translated into Japanese. It’s all over the Internet now. This could mean the eventual end for the Kono Declaration.

In short, the toothpaste is out of the tube.

Meanwhile, another controversy has emerged regarding the repair and restoration of National Treasure #1 in South Korea. That’s the Sungnyemun, one of the Eight Gates in the Fortress Wall of Seoul. It surrounded the city during the Joseon Dynasty, and dates from the 14th century.

People are complaining that the adhesives used in the restoration are Japanese products. Supervising the work is the Cultural Heritage Administration. They said the use of Japanese adhesives couldn’t be helped because they were of superior quality. Much of the gate was destroyed by fire in 2008, and the reconstruction work began in 2010. Japanese paint is also being used.

The agency said they would have preferred to use Korean products, but they were of inferior quality, and they could not “experiment” with a cultural treasure. The manufacturing process for traditional Korean adhesives was lost by 1980. A university professor tried to recreate it, but the agency said it was too weak.

This report is also on the Japanese Internet.

10 Responses to “New Japan-related controversies in South Korea”

  1. Ken said

    Anyway what they are taught is not history but (hi)story or hysteria as follows.

    Well,how wrong their start line is emerged on the hottest issue, Currency Swap Agreement expiration details like next site,

    Btw, a high school’s study trip to Korea seems to have been cancelled by anxieties of the parents as follows.

    I oppose choosing Korea for study trip because there are only apologize-to-comfort-women tour or fiction massacre memorial museum tour instead of impressive attractions.

  2. yankdownunder said

    Five Eulsa Traitors – wtf

    Tony said most readers of this blog just don’t understand the Korean mind.
    It’s true. I don’t. I’m not a psychiatrist and I cannot understand their insane behavior .

    What was the original title?
    Eulsa Treaty or Eulsa Protective Treaty or ?

    Insanity continues ..

    ‘Comfort women’ sign in Times Square urges Japan to apologize.


  3. yankdownunder said

    A university professor tried to recreate it, but the agency said it was too weak.

    Japan has 20 Nobel laureates. SK has one, the Peace Prize.

    Some say SK achieved its advanced economy despite being a colony of Japan.
    They don’t acknowledge Japan helped before or after WW2. Some admit Japan’s aid
    after WW2 helped SK advancement. And SK does not admit any copying/stealing of technology from Japan.

    Other advanced economies have multiple Nobel laureates. Why doesn’t SK?

  4. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Yankdownunder: Again, my suspicion – not to be taken so seriously but I cannot help imagining…. Nobel requires recommendation from that country, academics or scientific society. I guess Koreans are too proud of themselves to recommend other Korean fellows. In Japanese this type of situation is called 足の引っ張り合い pulling mutually by grabbing the other’s ankles.

  5. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Yankdownunder: But again, even if my suspicion turns out to be true, I have to add that that type of behavior or mentality is not exclusive to Koreans. No, not at all, we can see such behavior everywhere. If I do not add this, I will be seen as a simple Korean hater. No, I am not.

    And I like the Times Square billboard. It is beautifully executed. It shows unrelated person doing things unrelated to the subject, and carefully avoiding inviting unnecessary claims, by using photographs or other visuals which could be claimed as hoax or unproven, concentrating on demand for that same old sincere apologies. I will be in New York in November and I am looking forward to seeing it myself.

  6. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Yankdownunder: For the honor of Koreans.

    To the extent that account is true (and there is no sign of hoax), 2010 might have marked the first year for Koreans to celebrate Nobel prize in scientific areas.

    That means, within a few years, they can expect it. And I think they deserve it.

    Though, in my personal opinion, the value of Nobel prize for literature is much much questionable, particularly when I think about Kenzaburo Oe and if ever Haruki Murakami is awarded.

  7. Ken said


    I give you a break. Though base is said to be essential to win Nobel prize, Koreans also seem to have base for Nobel prize. (Right photograph is pedestal to put Nobel laureates statues.)
    cf.; Left photograph is one of eight No-name bridges for being named after Nobel prize laureates.

    If I reply seriously, I do not agree to your impression on their possibility in science from several reasons.
    Their report is also admitting there is little possibility in ten years as follows.

    Btw, I read Libertade is eroded by Koreans lately like Japan Town in San Fransisco, Little Tokyo in LA, etc. How terrible is it?

  8. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    Ken: Liberdade. The place is convenient to buy Japanese goods and to enjoy Japanese foods, but since long the place is full of Koreans and Chinese also. Besides, this side of town is said to be dangerous in the night. Still, lot of Japanese Brazilians live nearby.

    I think Nobel scientific side is more related to individual talents and efforts (and nation’s aid, too). Anyway Mr. Koshiba said, in response to an interview by a Korean press, that it is not something to be aimed at, though Japanese Ministry of Educaion and Science has a long term plan to gain 50 by 2050.

  9. Ken said


    I do not care the Chinese so much because they are relatively open and Chinese cuisine are enjoyable. However, once a district is town-jacked by Koreans, the atmosphere becomes spooky like the 32 St of Manhattan though I am not sure which the reason is, because they occupy the area exclusively or because the Oden-like characters monopolize the area. A Korean newspaper itself had been reflecting their exclusive nationality with comparing Liberdade and Bom Retiro.

    Btw, they have noticed that Koreans before Japanese annexation had been in terrible hygiene condition with excrement and parasites as you would have read in Searchina. If they could figure out practically who sanitized Korea, they may win Nobel prize in the future.

  10. Yuge said

    21stCSM, Ken: Most of the wealthy Japanese Brazilians moved to other areas in São Paulo. Liberdade’s restaurants and book stores are still mostly Japanese, but I do not see the Chinese and Korean there as a bad thing. There’s a awesome Chinese restaurant near the station, worth a try. Lot’s of places in São Paulo are dangerous at night, although there are stories about the Chinese Mafia in Liberdade.

    Interesting enough, in the Chinese commerce in 25 de Março, when my father tried to buy some toys with cheque, the Chinese salesman asked if we were Japanese or Chinese, and learning we were Japanese, accepted our cheque, as “Japanese are honest and I had enough problems with other Chinese”

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