Japan apologizes for unfortunate past
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan apologized Tuesday to South Korea for Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. In the statement, Kan also expressed deep regret over the suffering inflicted upon Korean people during the period and his resolve to deepen bilateral ties with South Korea. It was endorsed by the Japanese Cabinet.
In response, South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun said Seoul "paid attention" to Japan's admission that its colonization was forced upon the Korean people against their will and that Japan wanted to be frank about facing its past mistakes.
"We expect all Japanese people to share this view," Kim said in a statement. "We recognize Prime Minister Kan's statement as his and the Japanese government's willingness to overcome the unfortunate past between Korea and Japan and to develop bright bilateral relations in the future."
Kim also said South Korea is evaluating Japan's pledge to carry out humanitarian cooperation and to quickly return Korean cultural relics, including the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) royal documents called "Uigwe."
"We hope that through proper recognition and reflection of the unfortunate past, the close South Korea-Japan bilateral relations can further develop into a partnership for the future," Kim added.
Japanese media reports on Monday said Tokyo had been considering releasing the statement either before Aug. 15, when South Korea marks its liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945, or Aug. 29, when the annexation treaty took effect a century ago. [Yonhap]