Regarding "Refer Senkaku issue to ICJ to avoid a train wreck," Hotline to Nagata-cho, Jan. 8): Brian A. Victoria's analogy—two steam locomotives rushing toward each other at full speed—is perfect, not so much because he predicts a collision but because it symbolizes that one of the trains is off course and on the wrong track. That train is China.

Its claims to the Senkaku Islands, disputed with Japan, are belated, and while its interpretations of history are convenient, its historical narrative lacks facts. What's worse, China's claims are violations of the principle of estoppel in international law, by which a government is not allowed to deny or assert anything to the contrary of that which has been established as the truth by its own deeds, actions or misrepresentations.

This principle is important, both when recognizing the "inconvenient truths" facing China on this issue, as well as understanding where Mr. Victoria's letter failed to get to the heart of the issue. The dispute is not so much about differences in interpretations of history, but about the improper or incomplete presentation of supposed "facts," which gives one side or another an advantage in how the issue is perceived.