Former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s three-day visit in South Korea met with a not so auspicious start as his request for a meeting with President Park Geun-Hye was turned down. Murayama is most famous for issuing an official statement in 1995 when he was Prime Minister, apologizing to the Asian neighbours who suffered from Japan’s wartime aggression.
He is visiting Seoul on the invitation of the opposition Justice Party and requested a meeting with the South Korean President but was turned down because of her “busy schedule.” He was able to meet with several former comfort women and he told them to “please stay healthy” as they presented him with an artwork from the exhibition of former comfort women.
During a dinner with the Justice Party members, he said that all of Japan’s prime ministers since him have acknowledged what is now referred to as the “Murayama statement. The 89-year-old former prime minister and now member of the Japanese opposition Social Democratic Party will also be delivering a speech on Wednesday, at a meeting hosted by lawmakers from the National Assembly.
Relations between the two countries have been tense of late, partly due to a territorial dispute over the Takeshima Islands, called Dokdo by South Korea, but even more so by still lingering historical issues. Recent moves by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, like visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, have not mended their relations. The South Korean President has said she will not meet with Abe until Japan acknowledges and addresses their historical grievances.
[ via Global Post ]