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Unification Minister Chung Denounces Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi

Unification Minister Chung Denounces Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi

Posted March. 18, 2005 22:29,   


Chung Dong-young, the Chairman for the National Security Council (NSC) standing committee and Minister of Unification, harshly criticized remarks made by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Friday as the diplomatic disputes worsen between Korea and Japan.

In a meeting with high-level officials of the Unification Ministry, Minister Chung severely criticized the remarks Prime Minister Koizumi made on March 1 about President Roh Moo-hyun’s speech given on Korea’s Independence Day. In his speech, the Korean President said that Japan should “make...reparations if need be” for those who suffered during Japanese colonial rule. Prime Minister Koizumi said that President Roh’s speech was a domestic one and did not have international influence. Minister Chung said in regards to Prime Minister Koizumi’s remarks, “Not only is it not true, but it is also irrespective of the head of our nation.”

Minister Chung also mentioned Prime Minister Koizumi’s comments on Korea’s strident statement to Japan issued on Thursday, “It is important for Korea to understand the significance of building a friendly, future-oriented relationship with Japan.” Minister Chung said, “Moving toward the future is exactly what we were trying to say [in the statement]. Japan is the one that brought up past history. Japan is trying to conceal, distort, and justify its past wrongdoings.” It is unusual for a Korean Minister to denounce a Japanese Prime Minister’s remarks like this.

Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon pointed out in the government’s meeting with the ruling Uri Party on Friday, “Japan should act out what it says. The recent series of actions that Japan has taken raises doubts about whether Japan truly wishes to build a future-oriented, cooperative relationship with Korea.”

The government and the Uri Party decided in the meeting to consider asking Japan to take moral responsibility to comfort women of Japanese colonial rule, as part of its pressuring Japan to resolve Dokdo and history textbook issues.

Earlier on Thursday, Japan issued an official nine-point statement in response to Korea’s statement to Japan.

In the statement, Japan’s Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said, “We take heed to Koreans’ feelings towards our past history. We are willing to face the history as it is, reflect on what needs contrition, and further develop a future-oriented Korea-Japan relationship on the basis of reconciliation.”

However, Minister Machimura reiterated Japan’s claim that Dokdo is Japan’s territory and went on to say that the issue of the property claim right of Koreans is “a matter that reached a conclusion at the beginning of the diplomatic ties between Korea and Japan. It is not wise to turn back the diplomatic history of the two nations that has geared frontward since the establishment of the diplomatic ties.”

As for the issue of Japan’s history textbooks, the foreign minister said, “I believe the screening of the textbook will proceed fairly and appropriately, on the basis of education and screening standards.”

Meanwhile, Cho Ki-sook, the Presidential Secretary for Public Relations, said in a press conference that, “Under the rule of ‘subtle diplomacy,’ the government has left issues such as Dokdo and Japanese history textbooks to the private sector, rather than taking on the matters itself. The government now plans to set up an independent (private) organization that integrates related agencies and the roles they assume. The government will control and support these agencies as one entity.”