SEOUL, Jan. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea strongly denounced Japan's decision Tuesday to state its claim to Seoul's easternmost islets of Dokdo in the new teaching manuals for Japanese textbooks for middle and high schools.
Earlier in the day, the education ministry in Japan announced its revision to the teaching manuals to claim Dokdo to be part of Japanese territory. The education minister justified the decision, saying it is only natural for a nation to teach its students about their own territory.
The foreign ministry in Seoul immediately condemned the decision, demanding the Japanese ministry withdraw the manuals over the claim to the South Korean islets.
"Through the latest teaching manual revision, Japan's Shinzo Abe government laid groundless claims again over Dokdo, which historically, geographically and by international law belong to South Korea while trying to teach these wrong claims to its next generation," the statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
"Our government strongly denounced it and demands an immediate withdrawal. If the Japanese government does not answer the demand, our government will sternly take actions against (the manuals)."
The latest Japanese decision only shows that the country is still possessed by its past imperialism, the statement said, also expressing skepticism over the Abe administration's so-called active pacifist policy.
"If Japan truly hopes to contribute to world peace, it should nurture minds of peace and reconciliation for its next generation, rather than planting the seed of conflict and dispute," the statement also said.
As part of Seoul's protest of the new manuals, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun summoned Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Koro Bessho earlier in the day to lodge a strong complaint over the Japanese move.
"Japan could open a bright future only when it faces up to its history and truth," the South Korean vice minister was quoted by a foreign ministry official as saying in the meeting with Bessho.
It is worrying that the Japanese administration is misleading the country into its past reclusive nationalism, Kim was also quoted as saying.'
Earlier this month, Japan's education ministry said it is planning to include its claims to Dokdo in separate guidelines used in making history and geography textbooks for middle and high schools, promoting angry reactions from Seoul.
Dokdo islets, which lie closer to South Korea in the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, have been a frequent source of Seoul-Tokyo diplomatic tensions.
Tokyo under the nationalist Shinzo Abe administration has bolstered its territorial claims to the rocky islets, driving a wedge between the two countries.
Abe's visit to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine last month also added fuel to the already strained bilateral relationship, drawing indignation also from Beijing over the series of nationalist acts aimed at whitewashing and glorifying its imperialist history.
South Korea's rival political parties also denounced Japan's move in unison.
"Japan has starkly revealed its imperialist ambitions for a second territorial invasion," Min Hyun-joo, spokeswoman of the ruling Saenuri Party, said.
She also demanded Tokyo withdraw its claims to Dokdo, warning that returning to militarism will have serious implications for Seoul-Tokyo relations and Japan's future.
The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) lashed out at the Abe administration, demanding it stop all provocative acts that are in violation of peace and order in Northeast Asia.
The revision to the teaching manuals is no different from a decision to teach distorted history to Japan's future generations and an admission that the Japanese government does not repent for its past aggressions nor that it has any interest in building future-oriented ties with South Korea, DP floor spokesman Chyung Ho-joon said in a press briefing.
In a bid to better fight Japan's such nationalistic moves, South Korea will push to launch an international project to compile books on Japan's wartime atrocities, jointly with other nations victimized by Japan's early 20th-century imperialism, according to the ministry official.
China and some Southeast Asian nations may join the project to look into wartime aggressions by Japan and publish them into books, he said.