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ROK President Protests Against Koizumi's Shrine Visit

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on Friday complained strongly to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for the latter's repeated visit to a controversial shrine honoring Japanese war dead, including criminals of the World War II, according to an official from the South Korean Presidential Office.

Roh made the protest in a summit meeting with Koizumi on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting which is being held in South Korean second largest city of Busan.

Koizumi, however, defended his action by saying "The reason for me to pay pilgrimages to Yasukuni is to repent the war in the past and express my resolution that war should not be staged again," according to Chung Woo-sung, secretary at the South Korean Presidential Office.

Roh, however, rebuffed by saying "However hard I try to accept Prime Minister Koizumi's remarks, our people cannot accept them."

"The demands I have made (to Koizumi) should not be seen excessive ones," the president was cited as saying.

"We will never accept Japan's position on Yasukuni Shrine, Dokdo islets and school textbooks," Roh was quoted as saying in the 30-minute summit with Koizumi dominated by the diplomatic row over perceptions of history involving the two Northeast Asian neighbors.

Dokdo is the Korean name of a group of islets in the East Sea (Sea of Japan). Both South Korea and Japan claim the islets are their own territory.

Roh said his government will no longer demand Japan apologize or provide compensation for its past colonization of the Korean Peninsula, although the individual level compensation issue is another matter, Chung said.

Koizumi thanked Roh for expressing himself frankly, Chung said.

Relations between South Korea and Japan turned strained this year due to their territory disputes and the shared history.

Japan conducted colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula during 1910-1945.

(Xinhua News Agency November 19, 2005)

Roh to Meet Koizumi on APEC Sidelines
Koizumi's New Cabinet Features Reformers, Hawks
Koizumi Rejects Calls to Stop Shrine Visits
Koizumi, Roh to Tackle History Textbook Issue
ROK, Japanese Patrol Boats Confront in Sea
ROK Police to Conduct Defense Drill for Dokdo
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