Saenuri urges Japan to repent for past deeds
Japanese government officials should express remorse for the country's imperialist past and refrain from comments that hinder efforts to expand peace and prosperity in Asia, the head of South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party said Thursday.
Chairman Hwang Woo-yea expressed concern about recent remarks by Japanese Prime Minister Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and other senior officials, who claimed there is no documentary evidence showing Japan forced Korean women into sexual slavery during its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
"Such views run counter to Tokyo's previous admission on this matter and can pour cold water on ongoing measures to strive for regional peace and prosperity," Hwang said at the party's Supreme Council meeting.
In 1993, Japan's then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono confirmed the practice of forced sex slavery in the so-called "Kono statement," which has been considered a key stepping stone for reconciliation between the two countries. The statement, announced after extensive studies, said the Japanese military authorities were directly or indirectly involved in the establishment and management of the "comfort stations" where sex slaves served.
The Saenuri leader also said the United Nations firmly established Japan's legal responsibility for sex slaves, known as "comfort women," in 1996 and 2003 and called on Tokyo to apologize for its past actions and make necessary compensations.
"By going against history and opting to temporarily dodge responsibility, the Japanese government is only passing on the burden to the next generation," the lawmaker said. Hwang stressed that Korea will maintain its resolute position of pushing forward perpetual peace in the region.
The remarks by the five-term lawmaker come as Korea and Japan are engaged in a diplomatic row over the Dokdo islets and other outstanding issues that have been a source of friction in the past.
Hwang also called on Seoul to actively consider setting aside a supplementary budget to insulate the country from the global economic downturn.
"Policymakers should seriously consider the issue of an extra budget," he said, adding that the worldwide economic slowdown is affecting domestic consumption and fueling inflationary pressure.
The government forecast growth to reach 3.7 percent this year, but downgraded its target to 3.3 percent in June. There have been predictions that growth may not reach 3 percent. (Yonhap)