SEOUL, March 1 (Xinhuanet) -- South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun Wednesday urged Japan to put their apology over its aggression history into practice.
In a speech marking the 87th anniversary of the March First Independent Movement Day here, Roh said Japan has already apologized for its war past history, "We do not demand that they apologize again. We demand that they put their apology into practice."
The day marks Korean people's independent uprising in 1919 against Japanese colonial rule. Japan conducted colonial rule on the peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
Roh recalled that in 2005's anniversary of the March First Independence Movement Day, he stressed that "South Korea and Japan should settle the old scores of past history issues with verity and sincerity and march forward together on a path of genuine reconciliation and cooperation."
The South Korean president, however, expressed his regret that "during the past year, not much change has been observed with regard to issues involving the Yasukuni Shrine, distortion of history textbooks and Dokdo Islet."
"Japan's leaders continue to pay homage to shrine and the day when Dokdo was occupied by force as part of a war of invasion is being remembered," said Roh.
The Yasukuni Shrine honors 2.5 million Japanese war dead, including a score of World War II war criminals.
Dokdo, named Takeshima in Japanese, is a disputed small islet located in the Sea of Japan (called East Sea in South Korea). Both of the countries claim the islet their own territory.
"In this regard, it is natural for South Korean people to be concerned whether Japan would justify its history of invasion and colonization and take the path of hegemony once again," said Roh.
Roh also pointed out Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's view that his visits to the Yasukuni Shrine were not something other countries should interfere in is not a correct one.
Roh underscored an act of a nation's leader should be judged by the standard whether such act is proper in light of "universal conscience and historical experience," not by "explanations offered by him or her."
"If Japan wants to become 'an ordinary country' and even 'a leading country in the world,' it should try to win the trust of the international community by acting in conformity with universal standards for conscience and decency rather than seeking to amend laws and reinforcing its military power," Roh said.
Seoul-Tokyo ties have remained strained since last year due to various pending issues. Roh even canceled his bi-annual summit with Koizumi which should be held in late 2005. Enditem