Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said here Monday that he sincerely regrets and apologizes for the sufferings his country inflicted on the Korea peninsula during Japanese colonial rule in 1910-1945.
"I sincerely regret and apologize from my heart for the losses and pain inflicted on the Korean people by Japan's colonial rule," said Koizumi when paying respect at a memorial tablet at Seoul Independence Park, a prison where Japan committed against Korean independence fighters during its colonial reign in 1910-1945.
"The sufferings of the Korean people in the face of foreign invasion, national division and other unbearable adversities go beyond my imagination. In light of such historical relations, we must cooperate so as not to undergo the same painful hardships again," said the Japanese prime minister, who arrived in Seoul Monday morning for a one-day visit.
Koizumi's visit is seen to calm South Korean indignation against Japan after its approval of textbooks distorting history in May and Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in August which honors war dead, including Class A criminals of the World War II.
The South Korean National Assembly, or parliament, Monday morning adopted a four-point resolution calling for Japan's apology for its distortions of history in middle school books and Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.
The resolution was passed at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee of the National Assembly attended by Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Han Seung-soo.
"We express deep regret for the Japanese government's unreasonable insistence that distortions of history are in deed accurate and call for its sincere apology and a promise to prevent a recurrence during the occasion of the Japanese prime minister's visit to the nation," the resolution said.
It urged the Japanese government to clearly recognize that Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni has severely damaged the basis of friendly relations between the two nations.
"We call for the Japanese government to take clear steps, including an official apology for the Yasukuni visit and a promise not to repeat it," the resolution said.
On the ongoing fishing disputes over South Korean fishing ships in waters around the Kuril Islands currently under the jurisdiction of Russia, the resolution appeals to the Japanese government immediately to stop acts infringing on South Korean fishermen's' interests.
The resolution also stressed the importance that the expansion of the role of Japan's self-defense forces be made within the scope of its constitution.
Meanwhile, the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) Monday morning said the South Korean government has to receive clear answers from Koizumi on Japanese approval of distorting-history books, his visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in August and Tokyo's ban on South Korean vessels from fishing in waters near the Kuril Islands.
GNP spokesman Chang Kwang-keun said in a statement that October 15th, 2001 will be a second South Korean national humiliation day, and the Kim Dae-jung administration will be remembered as " traitorous regime" if it indulges in Koizumi's lip service.
The spokesman pointed out that the South Korean government has to declare the steps it will take if Koizumi, "the author who hurt national pride and interests," lacks sincerity while answering those issues.
Koizumi has cancelled his scheduled plan to visit the National Assembly, apparently in the wake of mounting anger from South Korean politicians and citizens over his visit.
The Japanese prime minister was initially scheduled to visit the parliament for a meeting with National Assembly Speaker Lee Man-sup and other political leaders after a meeting with President Kim Dae-jung on Monday noon.
( Xinhua News Agency 10/15/2001)