중앙데일리

Okada apologizes for Japan’s rule of Korea as colony

한일병합, 한국민족 자긍심 깊이 상처
It was first official remark on the issue by foreign minister under DP cabinet   PLAY AUDIO

Feb 12,2010
Katsuya Okada
Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada offered a rare apology to South Korea yesterday for Japan’s colonial rule over Korea from 1910 to 1945.

“I fully understand the agonies of people who lost their countries and had their national pride harmed,” said Okada at a press conference after having talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan.

Okada came to South Korea last night for a two-day visit after being sworn in last September as the first foreign minister for the Japanese administration under the Democratic Party.

It was the first official remark on the issue by an official of the Democratic Party.

The Democrats won a landslide victory in the general election late last August, pushing the Liberal Democratic Party out of power after its half-century of nearly unbroken rule.

“We should remember the agonies of people being ruled and never forget the feelings of victims,” Okada said. “In line with that, we should move forward with strengthened future-oriented and truly friendly relations by looking ahead into the next 100 years.”

He said that the Japanese administration under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama stands behind a statement made by former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on Aug. 15, 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The statement mentioned Murayama’s “heartfelt apology” for causing the war in the Pacific as well as colonial rule by Japan before the war.

Okada said he will discuss the possible visit of Japanese Emperor Akihito to South Korea, “taking all circumstances into consideration.”

The Japanese foreign minister said this year will be an important turning point in improved Seoul-Tokyo relations. He said he hoped to revitalize exchanges between people of the two nations.

During their talks, Yu and Okada reaffirmed their positions that holding a meeting for replacing the current Korean War (1950-53) cease-fire armistice with an official peace treaty and lifting United Nations-imposed sanctions against the North should occur only after Pyongyang returns to the six-party talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear program and makes progress on denuclearization.

The talks include the United States, South and North Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

“We agreed to sustain a two-track approach of maintaining pressure on Pyongyang through sanctions while holding the door open for dialogue,” Yu said. “We will do our best to have the North come back to the table as early as possible under close consultations among the five other parties.”

Yu noted that the recent exchange of visits by high-ranking officials between the North and China indicate positive signs for the resumption of the nuclear disarmament talks.

Seoul and Tokyo established diplomatic relations in 1965, but their ties have often been strained by what many South Koreans believed were Japan’s attempts to whitewash past actions.


By Lee Min-yong [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article


日외상 `피해자 마음 잊어선 안돼..무라야마 담화 계승
`北 요구 평화협정.제재해제는 비핵화진전 이후 가능`


오카다 가쓰야(岡田克也) 일본 외상은 11일 올해 100년을 맞는 한.일 강제병합과 관련, "100년전에 일어난 일에 대해 한국인들이 나라를 빼앗기고 민족의 자긍심이 깊이 상처받은 일이었다고 생각한다"고 밝혔다.

작년 9월 취임이후 처음으로 방한한 오카다 외상은 이날 오전 서울 도렴동 외교통상부 청사에서 한.일 외교장관 회담을 가진 뒤 공동 기자회견을 통해 이 같이 밝히고 "나라를 빼앗기고 민족의 자긍심에 상처받은 사람들의 기분을 이해할 수 있다"고 말했다.

오카다 외상의 이 같은 발언은 올해 강제병합 100년을 맞아 일본 민주당 정부가 과거사 문제에 대해 처음으로 공식적인 입장을 표명했다는 점에서 주목된다.
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