CBCK News


Communications on May 18, 2001

2009.08.24 10:58


◎CBCK Takes Its Official Position Against the Approval of Distorted Junior High School History Textbook

Concerning the junior high school textbook edited by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and approved by the Education Ministry screening panel on Apr. 3, 2001 the Committee for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea(CBCK) decided to take an official position and express its concern to the Japanese government about distortions and errors of the historical facts.
The decision was taken on May 10, during the Committee's meeting in a common understanding of the participants that the distortions at issue intended to justify Japanese history of invasions and war crimes and glorify imperial rule.
It was reported that the Committee would send an official letter signed by the Bishop members of the CBCK to the Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi as well as to the UN Human Rights Commission and other international organizations about distortion of history by Japan which is against the common good of the humanity. I
According to the report of the Special textbook task force headed by the Vice Education Minister of Korea, the controversial Japanese history textbooks contain 35 problematic passages justifying Japan's past misdeeds committed against Korea.
On April 3, the Japanese government announced that all of the eight textbooks submitted for government screening had been approved for use at Japanese junior high schools beginning in April next year, touching off criticism from Korea and China.

* Statement of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan concerning about the Approval of the History Textbook

On 3rd of April the junior high school history textbook edited by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform (Chairman: Mr.Kanji Nishio) was approved by the Education Ministry screening panel.

This book has a number of references which condone Japan's history of invasion and colonial rule, and glorify the rule of the Emperor. The approval of such a textbook will certainly lead to the concealment, distortion and glorification of the history of invasions and atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Military. We are deeply worried such a situation might happen in the future.

We sincerely hope that Japan will start this new century filled with new
hope by constructing strong solidarity with all the peoples of Asia, regardless of
nationality or race. For this, it is incumbent upon we Japanese to strive in all humility for honesty in historical interpretation in words and deeds, and thus win the trust of our fellow Asians. Based on this attitude, Japan has to review its past, reflect on it, determine not to repeat the same faults, and cooperate with other Asian countries. We will never attain all these unless we make serious efforts to make our own the viewpoint of the Asian countries which were victimized by the Japanese Military in the past.

The historical viewpoint of the above-mentioned Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform creates a big obstacle to the achievement of the Asian peoples' deep aspirations for justice, peace, and respect for human rights. Therefore we wish to express our deepest concerns about the approval of their history textbook distorted by their wrong tenets.

7th May, 2001

The statement was signed by 11 Bishops of Japan (among 17 Bishops in all) and sent to:
Mr. Jun'ichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister
Ms. Atsuko Toyamma, Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture

Cathollic Bishops' Conference of Japan
*Peter Takeo Okada (Tokyo Archdiocese)
Bishop in charge of Exchange Meeting of the Bishops of Korea and Japan
*Paul Yoshinao Otsuka (Kyoto Diocese)
Bishop in charge of Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace
*BMarcellino Daiji Tani (Urawa Diocese)
*Raphael Masahiro Umemura (Yokohama Diocese)
*Augustine Jun-ichi Nomura (Nagoya Diocese)
*Leo Jun Ikenaga (Osaka Archdiocese)
*Michael Goro Matsuura (Osaka Archidiocese)
*Joseph Atsumi Misue (Hiroshima Diocese)
*Joseph Satoshi Fukahori (Takamatsu Diocese)
*Francis Xavier Kaname Shimamoto (Nagasaki Archdiocese)
*Dominic Ryoji Miyahara (Oita Diocese)
*Berard Toshio Oshikawa (Naha Diocese)

◎ Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea Makes the Second Appeal of Solidarity to Its US Counterpart for Fair Revision of SOFA

On Apr. 23, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea(CBCK) sent a second petition letter to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States(NCCB) with a 36-page long attached document entitled "General Assessment of the Amendment of the SOFA". It is related to the revision of the Status of Forces Agreement(SOFA).
The first Appeal Letter to the NCCB was sent on Dec. 7, 2000 during the negotiation on SOFA revision in Seoul.
In the second Appeal Letter addressed to the Most Rev. Joseph A. Fiorenza, President of the NCCB, the Most Rev. Michael Pak, President of the CBCK, said that "Even though the second revision made some improvements and was welcomed as a major step toward the progress by some politicians, it has provoked a great disappointment and furious reaction of Korean people," and went on "in fact, we notice in the revised SOFA, how much the U.S. side tried to evade its responsibility and demanded excessive concessions from its Korean counterpart."
"We, the Korean Bishops, are concerned about the issues because the unfair SOFA and its consequences have made the Korean people feel humiliated for their national proud and sovereignty. Korean people came to pose questions about the purpose of the existence of the U.S. troops in Korea as they seek for peace and reconciliation of the divided country. Even today, the demonstration of Koreans in front of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul demanding a full and fair revision of the SOFA has become daily events. Participants are not only so-called SOFA-related groups but all walks of society including religious circles." the Letter explained the serious situation and asked the NCCB "to intervene in related authorities, government bodies and organizations so that a fair treaty can be made between the two countries on an equal level on behalf of a better world of justice, peace and sharing based on the mutual respect."
"The objective of SOFA revision is to develop a solid foundation and cooperation for security as well as a mature and future-oriented relationship between the two allied." it explained the reason of the second appeal for solidarity.

◎ Right to Life, the Most Fundamental Right of Human Being

The Committee for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops" Conference of Korea decided on May 14 to establish the sub-committee for abolition of capital punishment under its wing and to hold a pan-religion joint event at the National Assembly building on June 2 and issue a joint statement.
Regarding the Catholic position for the capital punishment campaign the Most Rev. John Choi Young-soo, President of the Committee, said that its primary objective is to protect the right to life that is the most fundamental right of all human beings.
"The right to life is inviolable right of all humans, therefore, even someone has committed a crime of the blackest dye, his right to life has to be respected, This is the key reason of our commitment to the campaign. We, the believers cannot delay any more the mission and responsibility of religions to realize the common good of people and protection of life, So far, the campaign was carried out by individual religions but from now on the six religions will do it together," he explained the context of Committee's decision to establish the special sub-committee and carry out pan-religion campaign to abolish the capital punishment.
"With the pan-religion joint event on June 2 as the starting point we will make visit to prisoners under sentence of death and carry out nationwide pas-religion signature campaign, and will meet prominent figures including the President Kim Dae-Jung, Minister of Justice and Party leaders to discuss the issue and broaden their understanding." he explained the plan.
"People who support the capital punishment think that the death penalty is an effective way to protect humanity against the grave crimes, however, it is not evident. Furthermore, in many cases, the system was misused for political purpose," he pointed out and insisted that "the solution for crime is not a death penalty but a comprehensive moral education and restoration of traditional values," he pointed out
"We will present to the National Assembly's Autumn Session the out-come of our signature campaign and petition for legislation of abolition of the system. We hope that Korea becomes the first country in Asia that has abolished the capital punishment and the Kim Dae-Jung administration is to be remembered as a government that respected human life." he said.

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