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S.Korea's Roh asks Japan not to undercut apologies
Updated: 2005-05-06 14:28

Japan needs to match its apologies for past militarism with appropriate actions that reflect true contrition, South Korea's president said on Friday.

Roh Moo-hyun said in a meeting with Japanese members of parliament that Seoul was not looking for new apologies.

He thinks previous apologies have been undercut by actions such as Japan recently approving a school history textbook that critics say whitewashes its military aggression in Asia and Japanese politicians visiting Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, seen by many as a symbol of Japan's militarism.

"The Japanese government and the forces leading Japan's politics have taken several actions that have nullified the apology they made before and have been in contrast with the intention of regret and apology," Roh said in a part of the meeting in Seoul that was open to reporters.

Tokyo issued a written apology to Seoul in 1998 for the harm it caused during its military expansionist period in the first half of the 20th century. Japan was the colonial ruler of the Korean peninsula from 1910 until 1945, when its rule was ended by its defeat in World War Two.

Japanese relations with South Korea and China have sunk to lows not seen in years, analysts say, as Seoul and Beijing have both protested about the school history textbook.

Over the past few years, the two have also complained about visits to Yasukuni by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, members of his cabinet and other lawmakers.

Seoul and Tokyo have also recently been engaged in a territorial dispute over desolate islets that rest between the two countries. There have been violent anti-Japan protests in China, sparked by the textbook issue.

"As long as those actions are being repeated, it would difficult to take their apology sincerely," Roh said.

"What our government and people demand is not a new apology but that they show us proper actions which match their apology," Roh said.

Last month, with anti-Japan sentiment running high, Koizumi reiterated previous apologies made by Tokyo over Japan's wartime past. He said in a speech at an Asia-Africa summit he felt "deep remorse" and offered a "heartfelt apology" for Japanese militarism.

Roh has said he is ready to fight a "diplomatic war" with Japan over what he sees as its inability to show proper contrition for its past.

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