TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan expressed remorse and apology for Japan's annexation of the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday.
File photo shows Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan holds a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo July 30, 2010. [Agencies]
"For the enormous damage and suffering caused by this colonization, I would like to express once again our deep remorse and sincerely apologize," Kan said in a statement
The apology came ahead of the 100th anniversary of Japan's annexation of the Korean Peninsula on August 29. Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula extended from 1910 to the end of the Second World War in 1945.
The move, directed at the Republic of Korea (ROK), is believed to aim to strengthen future-oriented ties between the two countries.
In addition to the apology, Japan will also return some Korean artifacts to the ROK.
During Japan's occupation of the Korean peninsula from 1910-45, many Koreans were forced to fight as front-line soldiers, work in slave-labor conditions, or serve as prostitutes in brothels operated by the military.
In response, South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Kim Young- sun said Seoul "paid attention" to the position included in Prime Minister Kan's statement that Japan admitted its colonization was forced upon the Korean people against their will and that Japan is willing to be frank about facing its past mistakes.
Seoul takes the move as Tokyo's intention to overcome their unfortunate past and expects all Japanese people to share this view, Kim added.