|The foreign ministry issued a strong protest Tuesday after Japan authorized new school textbooks renewing territorial claims to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo. Yonhap|
The foreign ministry issued a strong protest Tuesday after Japan authorized new school textbooks renewing territorial claims to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo.
Japan's education ministry earlier approved 17 social studies textbooks in the social studies area for middle school students, including history, geography and civic studies, to be in use for next year. The new textbooks repeat Japan's claim that the islets are its indigenous territory and are illegally occupied by South Korea.
"Our government strongly protests the Japanese government's approval of the middle school textbooks that distort, reduce and omit clear historical facts and contain unjust claims," the ministry said in a statement. "We urge that a correction be made immediately."
The ministry also warned of a stern response to any unjust claims by Tokyo regarding the islets, reiterating that Dokdo is "clearly South Korea's inherent territory historically, geographically and by international law."
Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young called in Japanese Ambassador Koji Tomita to lodge a complaint.
Japan's latest claim to Dokdo comes as bilateral relations remain chilled after months of discord stemming from pending wartime issues, including the unresolved issue of compensating Korean forced labor victims. South Korea was under Japan's colonial rule from 1910-45.
In 2014, Tokyo revised the teaching guidelines for modern history textbooks to reflect the government's assertion about Dokdo. Most editions published over the following years for use in elementary, middle and high schools contained the distorted information.
The new textbooks for next year also contain similar descriptions for the Kuril and Senkaku islands at the center of territorial disputes with Russia and China, respectively.
Japan's claims over the islets have long been a thorn in relations between Seoul and Tokyo.
South Korea rejects the claims because the country regained independence from Japan's 35-year colonial rule in 1945 and reclaimed sovereignty over its territory, including Dokdo and many other islands around the Korean Peninsula.
Since 1954, South Korea has stationed a small police detachment on Dokdo. (Yonhap)