[EDITORIAL] Joint history study

2010-03-29 17:15

Korean and Japanese historians have failed to agree on a number of historical issues regarding relations between the two countries, despite years of joint study. However, they have agreed on the fallacy of the so-called Mimana Nihonfu theory of the Gaya Dynasty, which had once been used to justify Japan`s colonization of Korea.
The second joint committee of scholars which was formed in June 2007 to follow up the work of the first committee (March 2002-June 2005) released its "final report" yesterday. While the prior committee ended up in identifying the many discrepancies in historical accounts in the two countries, the second panel attempted to approach the truth. It made some progress, but nationalistic viewpoints on either side still prevented resolving perennial controversies, especially over the process of colonization. Notably, while Korean scholars pointed to Japan`s coercion and intimidation during the signing of the 1910 treaty of annexation, Japanese members asserted that King Gojong did not oppose the treaty and rather suppressed objectors in the Joseon court.
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When in 2001 a Japanese publisher`s history textbook irked Koreans and Chinese for distorted historical descriptions, then President Kim Dae-jung and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi agreed to launch the joint study in an effort to promote reconciliation between the two countries. After nearly a decade`s efforts of joint study, the two countries are still far from compiling a common history textbook, but participants are known to have showed sincerity toward understanding each other`s positions.
Progress is slow and there is no immediate plan to launch the 3rd round of joint study with many expressing pessimism on both sides. Still it is a worthy project to pursue indefinitely for the purpose of giving our posterity accurate historical accounts of the two neighbors` interactions. This is necessary to usher in an era of genuine cooperation. Establishment of a permanent institution involving Korean, Chinese and Japanese scholars is strongly desired in this regard
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