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Korea-Japan Relations Chilled

Posted October. 18, 2005 06:51,   


Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on October 17 paid another controversial visit to the Yasukuni Shrine where Japanese war dead are enshrined, including convicted war criminals, despite repeated requests from Korea to cease. The relations between the two neighbors are rapidly freezing.

Cheong Wa Dae, the Korean presidential office, strongly protested the visit, expressing regret and informing its consideration of canceling a summit between Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and the prime minister, tentatively scheduled for the end of this year in Japan.

“The plan for the president’s visit to Japan has been put into various forms of words, but from today, it cannot be described as being considered,” said Kim Man-soo, the spokesman for Cheong Wa Dae, at a briefing on the same day. “The schedule is subject to changes.”

He also added, “His visit to Yasukuni Shrine undermines peace and cooperation efforts in northeast Asia,” and criticized Japan, “The Japanese government should recognize the serious negative impacts his behavior brings about on Korea-Japan relationship and on peace in northeast Asia, and it should bear responsibility for these consequences.”

Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon called in Japanese Ambassador to Korea Shotaro Oshima to the ministry office located in Jongno, Seoul, and conveyed his strong protest.

Minister Ban said, “We have requested the prime minister several times not to pay tribute to Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of Japan’s imperialist past. We cannot restrain our deep regrets and disappointment for his repeated visits,” and added, “The Korean government made efforts to resolve the past history between the two countries in a future-oriented manner, but his visit foiled our efforts and even has made us frustrated.”

Yeon-Wook Jung Hun-Joo Cho jyw11@donga.com hanscho@donga.com