Seoul, Tokyo Have Long Way to Go to Reach Shared View on Korea-Japan History

Article excerpt

A three-year joint Korea-Japan study on their tumultuous modern history, wrapped up yesterday, has only testified to the fact that there is still a long way to go before they find common ground in interpreting tragic episodes in their history, including Japan's colonial rule over Korea.

A panel of three Korean experts submitted a final report to Foreign Affairs-Trade Minister Lee Joung-binn, calling for regular meetings between historical scholars from the two countries, the establishment of a scholarship and cooperation in the publication of history textbooks.

Their Japanese counterparts will submit the same report to Foreign Minister Yohei Kono tomorrow, a Foreign Affairs-Trade Ministry official said, adding that the submission was temporarily delayed because of Kono's tight schedule.

During the past several decades, a series of provocative statements by Japanese leaders and government officials, which hurt the feelings of Koreans and nationals of other Asian countries occupied by Japan before and during World War II, have been a lingering source of diplomatic frictions between Japan and its neighboring countries.

Many Koreans, who view that such statements resulted from Japanese reluctance to look squarely at historical facts, fear that Japan still possesses a zeal for military hegemony in this part of the world.

Even after the three-year joint study, officials here conceded that the report failed to carry significant recommendations that could help help bring an end to Japanese leaders' repeated remarks based on distorted views on Korea-Japan relations, and encourage the peoples of the two countries to reach a shared view on their relationship.

So far, the joint committee for the promotion of Korea-Japan history studies, inaugurated in July 1997, has held two rounds of plenary sessions and five rounds of steering committee sessions.

The agreement on the formation of the committee was reached in a Korea-Japan summit held in November 1995. This followed a series of provocative remarks by Japanese Cabinet members reflecting ``distorted'' views on the modern history of the two countries, and in particular Japan's responsibility for its colonial rule of the Korean peninsula. …