Joel Assogba, in his Hotline to Nagata-cho column on April 30 ("Stand up to Abe for the sake of Japan, Asia's future"), wrote that the Japanese [in particular] want to forget their most unpleasant memories as quickly as possible. He may be right. But I am not so sure, because I have no means of comparing the attitudes toward the past between the Japanese and people of other nations.

One thing, though, may safely be said: The Japanese tend to confuse history with melodrama. It is true that every nation prefers feel-good narrative over critical examination of its history. But in Japan, the scarcity of politicians who base their policy-making on conscientious and critical study of history is conspicuous.

What the Japanese word rekishi (history) primarily evokes in the Japanese mind is research into the location of Queen Himiko's castle at the dawn of Japanese history, or heroic battles of warlords in the Warring States Period. I wonder if there is a counterpart of the Japanese phrase "rekishi no roman" ("history that inspires us") in other countries, which does not refer to some epic story, but to the study of history [itself].