BEIJING • China has lodged a formal protest with Japan over new Japanese school textbooks which it said distorted the history of the country's atrocities in China and reasserted a claim by Tokyo to a group of disputed islands.
China, the world's second-largest economy, and Japan, the third-largest, have a difficult history, with relations strained by the legacy of Japan's aggression before and during World War II and conflicting claims over a group of uninhabited East China Sea islets.
Japanese media say some of the textbooks approved for use from April next year describe the disputed islands as being inherently part of Japan. The books also revise some references to the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying, asked about the textbooks at a daily news briefing yesterday, said China was extremely concerned and had lodged "stern representations" with Japan.
"No matter what steps Japan may take to promote and market their mistaken position, it cannot change the basic reality that the Diaoyu islands belong to China," she said, referring to what Japan calls the Senkakus.
"The Nanjing Massacre was an atrocity carried out by the Japanese militarists when they invaded China. The evidence is cast iron and a conclusion was reached long ago about it. This whitewashing and censoring by Japan in these textbooks again shows that Japan is unwilling to face up to historical mistakes."
Beijing often reminds its people of the 1937 massacre, in which it says Japanese troops killed 300,000 people in China's then capital. A post-war Allied tribunal put the death toll at 142,000, but some conservative Japanese politicians and scholars deny that a massacre took place at all.
Last week, South Korea protested against Tokyo's approval of Japanese high school textbooks that identify a cluster of small, Korean-controlled islets as part of Japanese territory. The Dokdo islets, known as Takeshima in Japan, lie roughly halfway between South Korea and Japan in the East Sea (Sea of Japan).
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE