NEW YORK (Yonhap) – South and North Korea displayed rare unity on the U.N. Security Council Wednesday, as they fiercely condemned Japan for history "distortions."
The two Koreas, backed by China, said that Japan's conservative leadership is fully responsible for escalating tensions in Northeast Asia over history and territorial issues.
Amb. Oh Joon, South Korea's permanent representative to the U.N., accused Japanese leaders of having a "distorted view of what happened during the time of imperialism."
He was speaking at the U.N. Security Council's "open debate" session with the theme of "War, its Lessons, and the Search for a Permanent Peace."
His remarks reflected uproar in South Korea over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in December and his administration's decision to teach students that Dokdo, a pair of rocky outcroppings in the East Sea, is part of its territory.
With its patience wearing thin, South Korea's Park Geun-hye government has launched a more aggressive international campaign to make the case that Japan is distorting history and is the main culprit for soured ties between the neighboring nations.
Japan has a history of aggression against Korea, China and other neighboring nations, including the colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
The South Korean envoy said Japan's behavior stands in contrast with that of Germany, which has endeavored to reconcile with other nations since World War II.
"Japan, however, has not been able to properly address or break away from its militarist past," Oh said. "This is the underlying reason behind many of the recurring conflicts over historical issues in the region."
North Korean and Chinese diplomats attending the U.N. session joined in the criticism.
Ri Tong-il, deputy head of North Korea's mission to the U.N., said Koreans will not forget what Japan did and it will have to pay a price for that.
Among Japan's wartime atrocities was the forceful sexual enslavement of Korean and other Asian women for its imperialist military.
Ri urged Abe to desist from future visits to the controversial Tokyo war shrine, which honors 2.5 million war dead, including 14 Class A war criminals.
Japan, however, argued that it has already apologized for its past wrongdoings.
Kazuyoshi Umemoto, deputy permanent representative of Japan to the U.N., said teaching students about their nation's territory is natural.
It is not appropriate to turn such issues into a source of political and diplomatic disputes, he added.