Published : 2013-12-30 20:15
Updated : 2013-12-30 20:15
President Park Geun-hye on Monday criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to a controversial war shrine, warning against any future moves that would undermine bilateral trust.
“I hope we will not see any action in the New Year that would hurt mutual trust and worsen public sentiment by reopening the wounds of the past,” Park said during a meeting of her senior secretaries.
“If a country continues to repeat actions that run counter to universal values and standards of the international community and conscience of human society, it can’t be rated as a first-class nation, no matter how great its economic power may be.”
Last Thursday, Abe visited the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors some 2.46 million war dead including 14 “Class-A” war criminals. It was the first time in almost eight years for an incumbent leader to pay respects at the shrine.
The visit drew international condemnation, particularly from South Korea and China, two major victims of Japan’s war aggression. The two repeated their calls for Japan to rectify its “erroneous” historical perceptions.
Stressing that Seoul would maintain a “firm” stance on historical issues involving Japan, Seoul’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se expressed concerns that Abe’s visit to the shrine would “inevitably deal a blow” to relations between the two countries.
“(Seoul) would strive to strengthen cooperation with the international community to spread international consensus over Japanese leaders’ wrongful historical perceptions,” he said during a session of the National Assembly’s committee on foreign affairs and unification.
“To restore bilateral ties, Tokyo needs to craft concrete, sincere measures regarding Japan’s historical understanding and the issue of comfort women (who were forced into sexual servitude by Japan during World War II).”
Despite deteriorating ties, South Korea would continue practical, reciprocal exchanges and cooperation in economic and cultural areas and other sectors, Yun added.
Earlier in the day, the parliamentary committee adopted a resolution condemning Abe’s visit to the memorial. The resolution views Abe’s move as an action that threatens peace in Northeast Asia and the whole world and calls on the Seoul government to strongly respond to the case in cooperation with the international community.
The relations between Seoul and Tokyo have been heading to their lowest ebb as Japan has stepped up its claim to Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo and rejected Korea’s repeated calls for a sincere apology for the victims of Japan’s wartime atrocities.