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U.N. chief Ban takes swipe at Japan over attitude to history

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Published : 2013-08-26 20:38
Updated : 2013-08-26 20:38

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged Japan to face up to history and foster forward-looking relations with its neighbors, expressing concerns over heightened tension in the region.

In a news conference in Seoul, Ban also called on the leaders of Korea, China and Japan to “open-mindedly” discuss contentious issues for a “future-oriented solution based on the correct historical understanding.”

“I think the political leaders of the Japanese government need a very profound introspection about how to perceive history and how the right history helps to maintain good-neighbor relations in a future-oriented way, and a vision to look ahead into the global future,” he said. 
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses a news conference in Seoul on Monday. (Joint Press Corps)

The former Korean foreign minister was on a six-day home visit, which included a speech at an international rowing championship, development cooperation forum and visits to President Park Geun-hye and Prime Minister Chung Hong-won. He is scheduled to depart for New York on Tuesday.

Buoyed by a recent election victory, top officials of the Shinzo Abe administration have relayed worship at the controversial Yasukuni Shrine and remarks legitimizing the country’s wartime transgressions, inviting criticism from around the world.

Tokyo’s ties with Seoul and Beijing have been further eroded by sovereignty rows over the Dokdo islets in the East Sea and the Senkaku or Diayou islands in the East China Sea, respectively.

“The three Northeast Asian countries are virtually the center of economic development, scientific development and innovation and play a crucial role on various fronts,” Ban said.

“But as a U.N. secretary-general, I regret that tension persists between them due to recent historical issues or other political reasons.”

To contribute to the peace and coprosperity of the region and the world, the countries’ leaders would need a “broader perspective,” “political resolve” and “the right perception of history,” he added.

On North Korea, the secretary-general said he would seek a visit to the communist country “in due course,” praising recent progress in cross-border relations.

The two Koreas agreed last Friday to hold the first reunions of separated families in three years at Mount Geumgangsan next month, following an earlier breakthrough on reopening the Gaeseong industrial park.

“I have reiterated that I am ready to undertake any role as the U.N. secretary-general for the positive development of inter-Korean relations,” Ban said.

“As their relations gradually make headway, my position is that the relevant parties should first resolve the problems through dialogue, and while providing political help from the side, I will review my trip to the North at the fit opportunity in consultation with the North Korean and South Korean governments.”

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)

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