South Korea's National Assembly on Monday adopted a resolution condemning Japan's recent moves to glorify its militaristic past despite strong protests from its Asian neighbors, including Seoul.
Tensions between South Korea and Japan flared anew last week after several Japanese Cabinet ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, visited a shrine honoring Japan's war dead. The visits were seen in South Korea as a sign that Tokyo has not repented for its wartime atrocities and brutal colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
Angering Seoul further, a large group of Japanese lawmakers visited the shrine shortly after South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se canceled his trip to Tokyo.
Also last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe argued that the definition of "aggression" has yet to be fixed, in what was seen as a denial of Tokyo's militaristic past, including its colonization of Korea.
The resolution passed a full Assembly session with near unanimous support. Out of a total of 239 lawmakers in attendance, 238 voted in favor of the resolution, while one abstained.
"(The Japanese Cabinet's) irrational and rash acts and words are a diplomatic provocation with serious negative consequences for future-oriented ties between South Korea and Japan and the establishment of peace in Northeast Asia," the resolution said.
It also called on "responsible" Japanese figures to stop paying their respects to war criminals and stop making "absurd" statements that "deny a past that cannot be denied."
"We strongly urge (them) to apologize sincerely and reflect deeply on Japan's past, which caused extreme pain to numerous people," the resolution said.
Describing Japan's recent moves as a return to militarism, the resolution called on the South Korean government to use all of its diplomatic resources to handle the situation with "firm determination."
The international community should also recognize the seriousness of the issue and take strict measures, it added.
In a press briefing, Rep. Kim Gyeong-hyeop of the main opposition Democratic United Party said he abstained from the vote because the resolution was missing its "core" element.
"I agree with the resolution in general ... I demanded a ban on Japanese Cabinet members and politicians entering South Korea, but it was left out, so I abstained in protest," he said.
Japan's harsh colonial rule left deep scars on the hearts of Koreans. During that period, Koreans were banned from using their own language at schools and forced to adopt Japanese names.
Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were also mobilized as forced laborers and sex slaves. (Yonhap News)