China today accused Japan of breaking its word and allowing a school textbook to be published that glosses over Japanese atrocities and military actions before and during World War II.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Yuzhen issued a statement reacting to reports from Tokyo that a Japanese Education Ministry panel had approved a new history textbook that says the facts of the December 1937 Nanjing incident, in which Japanese soldiers were reported to have killed more than 100,000 Chinese, were still under debate.

The Chinese and many westerners refer to it as the "Nanjing Massacre" or "The Rape of Nanjing."

About four years ago, Japanese attempts to revise history textbooks caused a wave of protests throughout East Asia. The Chinese government called an end to its protests after the Japanese agreed to correct the offending textbooks. The Japanese also agreed to revise the criteria that they used for textbook screening to take into account the criticisms of neighboring countries.

"Regrettably, the Ministry of Education of Japan has once again done something that hurts the feelings of the Chinese people and the peoples of other Asian countries," said the spokesman.

The spokesman said a few references in the controversial new textbook are "contrary to historical fact." The new textbook is reported to avoid using such terms as "invasion" and "aggression," referring instead to Japan's "advance" into China.

Japan is China's leading trading partner, but relations have been troubled by a large trade deficit in Japan's favor and a suspicion in some quarters that the Japanese take advantage of China in trade relations. University students demonstrated in Peking and in several other Chinese cities last year, partly to protest Japanese "economic aggression" and an alleged revival of Japanese militarism.