Photo/IllutrationJapanese author Haruki Murakami, center, attends an exchange meeting with his readers at La Colline Theatre National in Paris on Feb. 23. (Sawaaki Hikita)

PARIS--Internationally acclaimed novelist Haruki Murakami emphasized the importance of telling "true history" at a talk here Feb. 23 and encouraged young readers to seize the power to believe in a better world.

The 70-year-old novelist participated in the exchange before the final performance of "Kafka on the Shore" at La Colline Theatre National as part Japonisme 2018, an exhibition to introduce Japanese arts and culture.

Wearing a black blazer and sneakers, Murakami spoke in front of 650 people for about 90 minutes before the play, originally produced by the late Japanese theater director Yukio Ninagawa, and took questions from French students and others in Japanese using an interpreter.

Asked about politics, Murakami said, "Populism is against globalism and far-right ideologies have been emerging. Japan is also facing the problem of nuclear power. I have my own opinions on such issues, but I am not sure how to express them in my novels. This has become my main challenge."

Referring to World War II, Murakami said: "I try to write about war as much as I can in my novels. Even in Japan, historical revisionism has been a problem. Attempting to keep only history that we find convenient is a problem many countries face, but we must be against it.

"In my generation, we tried to tell true history."

Murakami added, "The deliberate telling of false history has spread because of the Internet. It's very dangerous."

In response to the question, "How do you pass down (to the next generation) what you took over from the past generation?" Murakami replied, "When we are young, we tend to believe that the world will become better. However, we have lived without this ideal for some time now.

"These days, young people tend to think the world will get worse. In some way, I have to pass on my idealism, which I had held in my mind since I was a teen."

Regarding the driving force behind his novels, Murakami said: "We don't know what will happen next in the world. But I have faith in those times in history tens of thousands of years ago when people lived in caves and told stories at night to deal with their anxieties and fears.

"Our origins will always remain the same, even as the world moves ahead. I believe in the power (of storytelling)."