I've said my bit in the past about how utterly false the claims Koreans make about the era of Japanese rule tend to be, only to be met with lots of angry but empty-headed nonsense to the effect that I must be wrong, facts be damned, because Imperial Japan could never have done anything positive for its colonial acquisitions: after all, the Koreans say so loudly and angrily all the time, right?
Funny thing is, though, that it now appears that at least some educators in Korea are now ready to acknowledge what I'd been insisting all along - that whatever the effects of Japanese rule on the self esteem of Koreans, there can be no doubting that becoming a part of the Japanese empire had a very strong and lasting positive effect on the Korean economy.
A history textbook that speaks positively of the economic impact of Japan's occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45 has recently been published in South Korea.It's good to see that at least some Korean students will now have a chance to learn something about the real history of their country, rather than being simply stuffed with propaganda designed to stoke anti-Japanese hatred. Still, I don't see this positive move within Korea having much of an effect on the efforts of Korean chauvinists to rewrite history as presented outside Korea's borders, nor on the Westerners who would like nothing better than to believe that Imperial Japan was an Asian Third Reich, when it was no worse - and in quite a few respects much better - than all of the other Western empires of the period.
The new textbook covers modern and contemporary South Korean history, and was written by a group of authors known as the New Right, which includes a university professor.
Recent South Korean history textbooks have tended to focus on the campaign of Koreans opposed to rule when explaining the period during which the Korean Peninsula was forcibly placed under Japanese control.
However, the new textbook gives some credit to the Japanese occupiers, stating: "Japanese rule was not only a history of oppression and control. It was an era in which society's capacity to build a modern state was developed by learning [from Japan] and implementing this."
In particular, the textbook highlights infrastructure such as railways and roads that were developed during Japanese rule. "[Japanese rule] activated the free market economy," the book says.
PS: To buttress the claim I make in the final sentence above, I suggest that readers look at this link and this one to start learning about just a portion of the very many ugly aspects of that supposedly most benign institution, the British Empire. It's no mystery why Hitler thought so highly of the British Empire or liked to recommend "Lives of a Bengal Lancer" to his troops: Hitler's mistake was to assume he could get away with doing to the Poles and the Russians what British (and French, and Belgian, and Dutch, and Spanish, and Portuguese) administrators and settlers had done all over Africa, Asia and the Americas. To know all of this and yet claim that Imperial Japan was worse than the European empires is to engage in a blatant falsification of history - at least Japan left a positive legacy of development in Korea and Taiwan, which is more than can be said for Britain in any non-white colony ...