Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Japan needs to repent and make up for its past wrongdoings during its World War II occupation of its Asian neighbours. Suu Kyi made those strong statements in her meeting with Incheon Mayor Song Young-gil as part of her five-day visit to South Korea.
Song asked for her opinion on Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula and the pro-democracy Suu Kyi, who spent decades under house arrest, said that everyone makes mistakes, but not acknowledging those mistakes is the real sin. She stressed that Japan needs to face up to its past mistakes and then attempt to correct those wrongdoings, which includes the forcing of Korean women to act as sex slaves or “comfort women” for the Japanese soldiers. However, she said that Koreans should not harbor hatred against Japanese individuals. She mentioned her father, who stood against the colonial rule by Japan, as the one who gave her that advice. Suu Kyi is visiting South Korea to attend the opening ceremony of the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang.
The issue of Japan not formally apologizing for their war crimes against Korea has been a long-standing issue between the two countries, despite the statement issued in 1995 by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama acknowledging that Japan caused “tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations”. Tensions have escalated lately because of a territorial row over the Takeshima islands, or Dokdo, as the Koreans call them. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a right-wing politician, is reported as thinking about disavowing the Kono statement in 1993 because a lot Japanese nationalists believe there is no hard evidence that the Japanese military were involved in such heinous crimes.