Chinese, S.Koreans sue over Japan history textbook

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A group including Chinese and South Koreans sued a Japanese regional government on Tuesday over a new school textbook they say whitewashes Japan's militaristic past, the Kyodo news agency reported.

Japan approved a new edition of 'The New History Textbook' in April, drawing protests from China and South Korea.

The Education Ministry first approved the book, written by nationalist scholars for junior high schools, in 2001 in the face of strong protests from Japan's two Asian neighbours.

Kyodo said a group of about 1,000 plaintiffs including Chinese, South Koreans and Japanese sued Moriyuki Kato, governor of Ehime in western Japan, and the Ehime school board demanding that they revoke a decision, made in August, to use the new book at four government-run schools from next April.

The plaintiffs are also seeking around 120,000 yen ($1,000) in compensation for mental anguish that they claim to have suffered due to the decision to adopt the book, Kyodo said.

'We would like to cooperate with people across Japan who are against the textbook,' the agency quoted South Korean plaintiff Kim Jong-suk, 42, as saying.

The plaintiffs argue in the lawsuit, filed in Ehime, that the textbook glorifies Japan's invasions of Asian countries in the 20th century, and that the governor had illegally intervened in the process to select the textbook, Kyodo said.

To concentrate on the latest case, some of the plaintiffs had already dropped a similar lawsuit filed against the Ehime school board's decisions in 2001 and 2002 to adopt an earlier version of the book, the agency said.

Critics say the textbook plays down the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China and ignores the sexual enslavement of women for Japanese soldiers.

The book's authors and supporters have argued that the text's approach corrected a 'masochistic' view of history which they said had deprived Japanese of pride and patriotism.

Very few school districts have adopted the textbook for use in their schools.

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