SEOUL, March 1 (Xinhuanet) -- South Korean President
Roh Moo-hyun called on Japan Tuesday to make a sincere apology and compensate
for its past wrongdoings so as to "find the truth about the past".
"Japan should apologize for its past
wrongdoings, if any, and make due compensation," Roh said in a speech at a ceremony
marking the 1919 Independence Movement.
In global terms, this is a general method of
"liquidating past histories," Roh added.
Japan exercised colonial rule over the Korean
Peninsula between1910-1945, which inflicted great pain to Korean People.
On March 1, 1919, tens of thousands of Koreans took
to the streets nationwide to protest Japan's colonial rule, but Japanese
colonizers later quashed the civilian uprising.
"There is no change in Seoul's position not to make
the two countries' past history a diplomatic issue," he said. "But this can 't
be achieved through unilateral efforts".
On the issue of compensation for South Koreans forced
into labor during Japan's colonial rule, Roh said his government will make
greater efforts to address it.
"Although it is delayed, the government will step up
efforts tosolve the matter," Roh said. "The Prime Minister's Office has already
set up a private-government task force."
In January, the South Korean government declassified
thousands of pages of sensitive documents over the negotiations between South
Korea and Japan more than 30 years ago.
These documents show that Seoul gave up the rights to
request compensation for victims of Japan's colonial rule of the Korean
Peninsula in return for 800 million US dollars in grants and loans.
The revelation sparked a string of compensation
damage suits against the South Korean government and deepened public antagonism
Then, Seoul started to receive registration of local
victims who were forced to work in Japanese military and factories in the
colonial rule period.
In the speech, Roh also promised that his government
will try to get to the bottom of other issues, including the return of the
remains of forced laborers.
The South Korean leader also said: "Japanese people
should understand the anger of South Koreans who underwent extreme sufferings
during its colonization, including the issue of 'comfort women'".
Some 200,000 Korean women, who were forced to provide
sex to troops in the Japanese army, have yet to receive an apology or
Roh urged Japan to follow Germany who revealed the
truth about its atrocities during World War II and made an apology.
Roh also expressed his wish that "South Korea and
Japan should be reborn as good neighbors, brushing aside their past history".
In late January, South Korea and Japan kicked off a
series of events to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of
diplomatic relations between the two neighbors.
Roh's speech comes at a time when Seoul-Tokyo
bilateral relations have been strained due to quarrels over Dokdo, a group of
uninhabited islands in the East Sea (Sea of Japan).
Toshiyuki Takano, Tokyo's ambassador to Seoul,
claimed last week that the islands, called Taekshima in Japanese, belong to
Japan. His remarks triggered rising of anti-Japanese sentiment here.