SLUG: 2-278132 South Korea Japan
TITLE=SOUTH KOREA/JAPAN (L)
BYLINE=HYUN SUNG KHANG
INTRO: South Korea has suspended military exchanges with Japan to underscore its insistence that Tokyo amend controversial history books that critics say gloss over Japanese wartime atrocities. Hyun-Sung Khang in Seoul reports the suspension is the first move against Tokyo since Japanese officials rejected South Korean and Chinese calls to revise the textbooks.
TEXT: South Korea's defense ministry says the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in Seoul has cancelled a proposed visit to Japan this month in response to Tokyo's refusal to amend controversial history textbooks.
A ministry spokesman says no military exchanges will take place between the two countries until further notice. He added that two Japanese Navy ships were refused permission to dock at the west port city of Inchon in September. The spokesman says the move demonstrates how seriously Seoul is taking the issue.
The measures are South Korea's first reaction since Monday, when Tokyo rejected calls from Seoul and Beijing to make major revisions to the school textbooks. Critics say the books distort Japan's history, including its actions in World War Two. The Japanese government insists there are no clear mistakes in the book.
On Tuesday, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung expressed shock at the Japanese government's refusal to make revisions, and pledged to continue putting pressure on Tokyo.
In addition, the Seoul government will hold an inter-ministry taskforce meeting to discuss Tokyo's response. The team is expected to come up with a series of
recommendations, including possibly revising the schedule for the gradual opening of the South Korean market to Japanese popular culture.
The issue of the history textbooks is increasing anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea, where there have been demonstrations outside the Japanese embassy and calls to boycott Japanese-made products. South Koreans are angry that the book failed to mention the so-called "comfort women" who were forced into prostitution for the Japanese imperial army during World War Two. They also reject the description of the Japanese invasion of the Korean peninsula, as an "advance". (signed)
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