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Seoul calls for Tokyo to ‘look squarely at its past’

South Korea on Tuesday urged Japan’s new government to “look squarely at its past,” setting a brusque tone following reinforced Japanese moves to lay claim to the South’s easternmost islets of Dokdo.

Japan’s parliament approved former finance minister Yoshihiko Noda as the new prime minister earlier in the day, making him the country’s sixth leader in five years. The new Japanese government will be launched early next month.

“We expect to continue to forge mature and future-oriented relationships with the new Japanese government led by Prime Minister Noda as it looks squarely at its past,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae said.

Diplomatic tensions between South Korea and Japan have recently flared over a renewed Japanese move to strengthen its territorial claim to Dokdo, which lies closer to South Korea in the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

Four Japanese lawmakers were banned early this month from traveling to a South Korean island close to Dokdo in their attempt to renew Tokyo’s claim to Dokdo.

Japan’s claims over Dokdo have long been a thorn in relations between Seoul and Tokyo. South Korea rejects the claims as nonsense because the country regained independence from Japan’s 36-year colonial rule in 1945.

Noda himself also sparked diplomatic trouble with South Korea this month, saying the Japanese “Class A” war criminals honored at Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine are not in effect war criminals. 

(Yonhap News)