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2009/10/08 14:43 KST
Seoul welcomes joint history book with Japan, but says will take time

  
By Byun Duk-kun
SEOUL, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Thursday welcomed the Japanese foreign minister's suggestion to compile a joint history textbook but said it will take some time.

   "It will be a positive development if we can actually publish a common textbook," an official at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said of the remarks by Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada on Wednesday.
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The foreign minister, in a speech to an association of foreign correspondents, was quoted as saying that it would be "ideal" for South Korea, Japan and China to jointly author history textbooks. Okada is the first Japanese official to come up with the idea, apparently to help resolve constant disputes over Japan's wartime past.

   Japan's history textbooks have strained Seoul-Tokyo relations, with Tokyo accused of whitewashing its crimes during the colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula. Japan colonized Korea from 1910 to 1945, during which hundreds of thousands of Korean men were mobilized for forced labor and women for sexual servitude. Japan also invaded many parts of Asia, including China, until the end of the Pacific War.

   The Cheong Wa Dae official noted a joint study was already underway by the three countries' private sectors for a common history textbook, but said it will be a "long-term" project.

   "They have to consider the circumstances facing each country, but it will still be an important attempt," the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

   Seoul is hoping for improved relations with Tokyo with the inauguration of new Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who, in a bilateral summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in New York last month, said his government is "brave enough to look straight in the face of history."

   Lee and Hatoyama are set to hold their second bilateral summit here Friday, to be followed by a three-way meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing the following day.

   bdk@yna.co.kr
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