World / Asia-Pacific

S Korea regrets over Japan's review of apology

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-06-20 19:50

SEOUL -- South Korea's Foreign Ministry on Friday expressed deep regret over Japan's review of the so-called Kono Statement, an apology and acknowledgment of the militaristic Japan's forced recruitment of Korean women as wartime sex slaves.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the review itself is a contradictory act as the Japanese government, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said it would inherit the Kono Statement.

The ministry expressed deep regret over the re-examination, saying the review results misled the fact relevance and spoilt the reliability on the past apology.

The results of the Kono Statement review, which a group of five Japanese civilian inspectors had carried out from February, were unveiled at the Japan's House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting earlier.

The results said the South Korean government intervened in the wording of the Kono Statement, indicating it was the consequence of political dealings behind the closed doors.

The Kono Statement refers to an official apology made in 1993 by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, who acknowledged the imperialistic Japan was involved in the recruitment of more than 200,000 young women, mostly Koreans, and forced them to serve in military brothels.

The Foreign Ministry said Seoul just presented its unofficial opinion on the wording after Japan's repeated calls for it at the time, saying that South Korea made it clear that the fact-finding efforts are not an object for bilateral negotiations.

Testimonies made by 16 South Korean victims of the sexual slavery, based on which Japan made out the 1993 statement, were the stronger evidence than any to prove the forcibleness of the wartime sexual enslavement, the ministry said.

It said South Korea had expressed its crystal-clear objection in January 1997 to the compensation payment to the South Korean victims through the Asia Woman Fund, which Japan established to atone for the wartime atrocities, calling for the Japanese government's sincere apology and acknowledgment of its responsibility for anti-human crimes.

South Korea has demanded the Abe cabinet to make an official apology and compensation for the victims of the so-called "comfort women," or a euphemism for young women, mostly Koreans, coerced into sex slavery for the Japanese Imperial Army during the World War II.

Abe said on March 14 that he and his cabinet will inherit the Kono and Murayama statements, which resulted in South Korean President Park Geun-hye sitting down face-to-face with Abe under the arbitration of U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit held in late March in the Netherlands.

The Murayama Statement refers to Japan's apology issued in 1995 by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama to its Asian neighbors that suffered from Japan's colonial rule and wartime brutal aggression.

South Korean lawmakers lashed out at the review results. Park Dai-chul, the spokesman for the ruling Saenuri Party, said the party cannot repress its astonishment over Japan's "a-historical" acts as the review was aimed to devalue the past apology as the consequence of political negotiations between the two countries.

Park urged the South Korean government to tackle Abe cabinet's self-righteousness and a-historical acts in a sterner manner than ever, saying the Abe cabinet should be held totally responsible for the possible crisis in ties between South Korea and Japan as well as stability in East Asia and the international community.

Park Gwang-on, the spokesman for the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, told a press briefing that the review report, which stated there were negotiations between South Korea and Japan on the wording of the Kono Statement, was aimed to pardon Japan's anti-human crimes and deny the historical facts involved in the statement.

The spokesman said Japan's denial of its colonial rule of Korea and the recruitment of sex slaves during the World War II is equivalent to another act of aggression, noting such acts will not be tolerated by people in South Korea and East Asia as well as all over the world.

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