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Park, Xi raise concerns over Abe’s defense policy shift

The leaders of South Korea and China on Friday voiced concerns about Japan’s recent moves to push the limits of its pacifist constitution and its denial of past wrongdoings.

Senior secretary for foreign affairs Ju Chul-ki told reporters that Presidents Park Geun-hye and Xi Jinping shared views on growing concerns about Tokyo’s push to end a ban on collective self-defense by reinterpreting its constitution, despite opposition from many nations as well as its people.

The leaders also expressed regret over Japan’s backpedaling on its 1993 apology for its wartime atrocities, including its sexual enslavement of Korean women, Ju added.

The remarks came during a private lunch on the second day of Xi‘s visit to South Korea. They also came some days after Japan approved its right to fight in overseas wars, overturning its strictly defensive postwar security policy.  
Chinese President Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping

Earlier in the day, Xi stressed the hardship both China and South Korea suffered under Japanese militarism in a speech at Seoul National University.

“In the first half of the 20th century, Japanese militarists barbarously invaded China and Korea, swallowing up Korea and occupying half of the Chinese mainland,” Xi said.

“When the war between China and Japan reached its peak, the Chinese and Koreans helped each other, risking their lives,” he said.

The Chinese leader arrived on Thursday, with a large group of political and business leaders, as well as Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan. Xi’s trip to Seoul was widely seen as a snub to its traditional ally Pyongyang, as he chose the South Korean capital before North Korea.

Xi also called for a “denuclearized Korean Peninsula” and said that the goal should be attained through “dialogue and negotiation,” reiterating the statement he made during a joint news conference held with Park after their summit.

During the summit, the two leaders agreed to strongly oppose North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and work together to improve conditions in order to resume the long-stalled talks on ending Pyongyang’s related programs. The two sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation on business and culture and turn their strategic partnership into a more comprehensive one.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday that Xi has offered to “jointly hold memorial events” next year to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s colonial rule as well as the end of the World War II. 

By Cho Chung-un (