[VIEWPOINT] Why Japan Distorts HistoryThe modern history of Japan has been the exclusive devotion to Westernization and complete rejection of Asian ways. Japan has shown a particularly allergic response towards Korean ways.
If they are conscious of even a hint of Korean customs in them, they feel very uncomfortable and disgraced. It is an unbearable dishonor, since Japanese consider themselves the Westerners of Asia.
Many Chinese cultural assets were introduced to Japan via Korea. The Japanese do not want to acknowledge this because to do so would threaten their self-respect and identity.
The modern history of Japan has been a desperate struggle to escape this reality. Korea has been the object of enmity, and a source of trouble that Japan has tried to shake off.
The Koreans who became Japanese citizens by naturalization try to shrug off Korean ways as fast and completely as possible. The most humiliating insult for Japanese is being called "josenjing," which means Korean in Japanese. Japanese who are aware that they have Korean blood in them hate Korea all the more.
Realizing their awkward situation, one can understand why Japan, which considers itself a powerful country, considers it necessary to distort history.
The day Japan gives up this practice on its own accord is the day Korea will surpass Japan. When Japan starts to believe they should be like Korea, their attitude will change. It will change also when Japan really becomes a strong nation like Germany.
Korea and Japan are neighbors, geographically and historically. They are influenced by each other and share many elements. It would be strange if there weren't any similarities. Both nations should acknowledge each other and accept this fact.
Korea bares some of the responsibility. We can not blame only the Japanese, since there were among Koreans people with the idea that they wanted to smash the Japanese built Capitol Building in Seoul and sprinkled its debris at Sejongno. After all the Capitol Building was destroyed, but did the remains of Japanese colonization disappear?
Glory cannot be perceived solely as history. No one can deny that disgrace and wounds also make up history. These are facts with no need for beautification or embellishment. The facts can be concealed for some time, but history will repeat its function of revealing the truth in the end. That is why people are filled with awe when they face history.
In Japan, there are also many conscientious historians. These historians feel ashamed of the distortion of history and the weak Japanese identity, which enables the misrepresentations.
Intolerance towards outside influences and narrow-minded obsessions against neightbors to the point of rejecting them should be cast aside. Other people's ways should be acknowledged, accepted and harmonized.
The world is moving towards harmoney and tolerance.
The writer is a psychiatrist.
by Lee Si-hyung