S. Korea sumo team cancels Japan trip on textbook row

TOKYO, Reuters

A South Korean high school team has pulled out of a Japanese sumo wrestling tournament to be held next month, citing recent controversy over a Japanese history textbook, Kyodo news agency said on Saturday.

The team from Suwon Agricultural Life Science High School in Kyonggi province informed a Japanese high school with which it runs an exchange program that it would pull out of the tournament to be held on August 15 because of the textbook row.

South Korea, mainland China, and other Asian nations have criticized the textbook for attempting to justify Japan’s invasion of much of Asia in the first half of the 20th century.

Kyodo quoted organizers of the 50th National High School Sumo Invitational Tournament in Towada, a city in the northern Japanese prefecture of Aomori, as saying they were notified of the decision on Thursday.

An official for the secretariat of the sumo event said the decision was “regrettable”, Kyodo reported.

Officials at the secretariat could not immediately be reached for comment.

The news of the canceled visit came a day after the South Korean government threatened to boycott educational exchanges with Japan in retaliation for its refusal to amend history textbooks that critics say whitewash Tokyo’s wartime atrocities.

South Korea has also said it would scale back cultural and military contacts with Japan after Tokyo reaffirmed on Monday that it had no intention of making major changes to the textbook, to be used in Japanese classrooms next year.