No ‘correct’ view of history

Regarding the Sept. 5 article “South Korean text lauds Japan colonial rule“: The call for Japan to accept the “correct” view of history is routinely heard from South Korean politicians and most alarmingly, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. This is the rhetoric of the uneducated or the autocrat.

There is no such thing as the “correct” view of history. History is not a list of figures and dates. Historical dates exists by virtue of decisions. Decisions are made within historical contexts and an appreciation of those contexts is central to the interpretation of history. The context of a decision is often a source of heated debate, hence the historian is an academic and not a record keeper.

It is a positive thing, therefore, that in the article a South Korean textbook company has challenged a “correct” view. This simple act may go a long way toward altering the concept of history as it exists with South Korean leadership, thus paving the way for serious debate on the contentious historical issues that retard relations between South Korea and Japan.

paul de vries
kawaguchi, saitama prefecture

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.