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Seoul wants action after Japanese occupation apology

Reuters

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak urged Japan to follow through on the apology for the occupation of the Korean peninsula made by Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Tuesday. Kan expressed “deep remorse” for the “tremendous damage and suffering” inflicted during the 1910-1945 colonial rule.

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“It is important how Japan will translate it into action,” Lee was quoted as saying by an official after Kan’s statement, which was approved by the cabinet on Tuesday.

"Through the colonial rule that was against their will ... the people of Korea were deprived of their nation and culture and their ethnic pride was deeply hurt," the statement said.

Kan promised to hand over cultural artefacts from the peninsula “in the near future”. They include royal records from the 1392-1910 Chosun dynasty.

Japan is deeply divided over its role in Asia at the beginning of the 20th century. One member of Kan’s party, the Democratic Party of Japan, dubbed Kan’s apology “disgraceful”.

Japanese prime ministers have issued several expressions of regret, including the landmark 1995 statement by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. But conservative politicians have criticised the statements.

Asian leaders have often dismissed the apologies as insincere, especially since several leaders have continued to visit the Yasukuni Shrine to the war dead, which includes 14 officers who have been condemned as war criminals.

Japan and South Korea normalised relations in 1965.

In other news, Bolivian President Evo Morales will visit Seoul late this month for talks that could ease South Korea’s access to lithium deposits in his country.

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