In an interview with CNN on Monday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said that Japan’s leaders must not engage in any actions that put their past apologies to South Korea in a bad light. Japan had already made a number of official public apologies for its colonial rule over Korea, namely the “Kono statement” and the “Murayama statement” – so called because of former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono and former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama who spoke these words – and both statements have been the basis of tolerable relations between the two countries.
“We were able to move forward with Korea’s relationship with Japan over the years because Japanese political leaders have clearly stated through the Murayama, as well as the Kono statement, their correct understanding of history, and this has allowed us to move our relationship forward,” Park said. “I hope the current Japanese leaders will make sure they inherit the Murayama and the Kono statements and refrain from words and acts that put their sincerity into doubt,” she added. Currently, bilateral ties between the two East Asian neighbors are somewhat cold due mainly to Korea’s claims that Japan still refuses to address grievances over sexual slavery and other atrocities committed during its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, and a territorial dispute over the South Korea-controlled islets of Dokdo, which Japan claims as Takeshima.
When CNN asked Park whether she would shake hands with Abe at the World Economic Forum in Davos later this month, Park said that there are greater issues at play in the relations between Seoul and Tokyo. “This isn’t simply a matter of whether we would engage in a handshake,” she replied. “If you put yourself in Korea’s shoes, I would in fact ask the question of whether you can actually pretend nothing has happened and just move forward,” she added. Lately, relations between Japan and South Korea took another blow after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a recent visit to the highly controversial Yasukuni war memorial, a shrine that honors Japan’s war dead, including those considered as World War II criminals. South Korea and China have always taken issue with such visits to Yasukuni, saying that Japan suffers from a skewed view of history. “I hope to move toward a future-oriented relationship with Japan based on correct understanding of history. In fact, it has been my desire to leave to my future generations a legacy of friendship and a legacy of being able to work together,” Park said in the interview.
[via Yonhap News]
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