South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, who is in Brussels for the 7th South Korea-European Union (EU) summit, voiced her criticism on Friday of its Asian neighbor Japan for the “retroactive” attitude its government had on history. Park said that Tokyo so far has not had a “correct attitude” towards the issue of “comfort women” and its wartime aggression of neighboring Asian countries, saying this during a press conference with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso after the summit.
Park pointed out that historically, Tokyo has refused to apologize for its “past wrongdoings” during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of South Korea, particularly the treatment of “comfort women” – the term used to identify women, not just from Korea but form other Asian countries as well, who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels. “If there is no change in position of the Japanese government, there will be no dialogue with the Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe of Japan),” she strongly stated. According to Park, the Japanese government “has not created a ripe atmosphere” for the Seoul-Tokyo summit and a summit in this atmosphere will be “against the conscience and emotion the people”. She further asked the Japanese government to work “for relations oriented towards the future”.
The South Korean president had recently gone on record in an interview with international broadcaster BBC, saying that there is “no purpose” for holding a summit with Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe because Japan still refuses to apologize for its wrongdoings. The two countries may be aligned in keeping North Korea’s nuclear program in check, but they have been embroiled these past few months in a long-standing territorial dispute and disagreements over historical issues. “If Japan continues to stick to the same historical perceptions and repeat its past comments, then what purpose would a summit serve? Perhaps it would be better not to have one,” she said in the interview.
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