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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

China seizes Japanese school's textbooks


Staff writer

Chinese authorities have confiscated 128 Japanese social studies textbooks ordered by a Japanese school in Dalian because they contain "inappropriate descriptions" of Taiwan and mainland China, government officials said Tuesday.

The Dalian customs office in Liaoning Province seized the supplementary history and geography textbooks because they use maps that illustrate Taiwan and China in different colors, according to an official at the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.

The customs office also fined the school 1,000 yuan, or about 13,000 yen, for ordering "problematic materials," the official said. About 155 Japanese elementary and junior high school students attend the school.

It is the first time the Chinese government has confiscated textbooks or supplementary teaching materials bound for Japanese schools in China for censorship reasons.

China claims sovereignty over Taiwan and has threatened to attack the self-governing island if it declares formal independence. Japan recognizes the "one-China" policy recognizing Beijing as the sole government but still maintains unofficial ties with Taiwan.

At a news conference Tuesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said China told Japan that it confiscated the textbooks based on legislation that allows the government to ban import of goods that could harm the public interest.

Despite what the education ministry official said, Hosoda remarked that it was not clear what it was about the textbooks that was in violation, or which part of the legislation was applied.

Of 1,400 textbooks imported by the school, the customs office seized 128, of which 15 were officially confiscated. Chinese officials said the other 113 would be returned to the school on condition it agrees to return them to Japan, Hosoda said.

The official hinted that Japan will not lodge a protest with China because the matter with the school has been resolved.



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