World / Asia-Pacific

S.Korea strongly regrets Abe's US Congress speech

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-04-30 16:10

SEOUL - South Korea expressed strong regret Thursday over Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech to US lawmakers as Abe avoided apologizing for and mentioning wartime atrocities.

"It is very regrettable that there was neither sincere apology nor (right) perception (of history) in Japanese Prime Minister Abe' s speech in US Congress," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Abe's speech could have become a turning point for Japan to reconcile and cooperate with neighboring countries"in earnest" based on the right perception of history, but Abe failed to grasp this opportunity, the statement said.

Abe said in the first speech to a joint session of US Congress as Japan's premier that he would"uphold"related statements made by his predecessors, but fell short of mentioning Japan's"colonial rule and aggression"and apologizing for the wartime brutalities.

Abe's speech suggested that he would not mention the terms, such as"heartfelt apology"and"colonial rule and aggression"in his upcoming statement in August to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II.

Those terms were used in the statements issued by then Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995 and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2005 to mark the war end's 50th and 60th anniversaries.

The Foreign Ministry said that if Japan wants to contribute to world peace as mentioned in Abe's speech, it would be important for Japan to honestly acknowledge and repent its wartime past to gain trust and reconciliation from the international society. Abe' s words and actions were in a stark contrast to these calls, the ministry said.

South Korea urged Japan to squarely face its own history of colonial rule and aggression as well as the atrocious crimes against"comfort woman"victims to go down the path of reconciliation and cooperation with neighboring countries based on right perception of history.

At least 200,000 women, mostly from the Korean Peninsula, were forced into sexual slavery for Japanese military brothels before and during the World War II, and they are now referred to as" comfort women."

Without mentioning the comfort women victims, Abe just said in his speech that"Armed conflicts have always made women suffer the most,"seeking to justify the imperial Japan's recruitment of sex slaves.

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