Following is a provisional translation of the statement by Prime Minister Naoto Kan released Tuesday ahead of the Aug. 29 centenary of Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula:
This year marks a significant juncture for the Japan-Republic of Korea relationship. In August precisely 100 years ago, the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty was concluded, marking the beginning of the colonial rule of 36 years. As demonstrated by strong resistance such as the Samil independence movement, the Korean people of that time were deprived of their country and culture, and their ethnic pride was deeply scarred by the colonial rule which was imposed against their will under the political and military circumstances.
I would like to face history with sincerity. I would like to have courage to squarely confront the facts of history and humility to accept them, as well as to be honest to reflect upon the errors of our own. Those who render pain tend to forget it while those who suffered cannot forget it easily. To the tremendous damage and sufferings that this colonial rule caused, I express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and my heartfelt apology.
Guided by such understanding, I will build a future-oriented Japan-Republic of Korea relationship by placing the next 100 years to come in my prospect. I will continue in all sincerity conducting such humanitarian cooperation as the assistance to ethnic Koreans left on Sakhalin and the assistance in returning remains of the people from the Korean Peninsula. Moreover, in response to the expectations of the Korean people, I will transfer precious archives originated from the Korean Peninsula that were brought to Japan during the period of Japan’s rule through the governor general of Korea and the government of Japan possesses, such as the Royal Protocols of the Joseon Dynasty.
Japan and the Republic of Korea, through active exchanges of cultures and peoples for more than 2,000 years, deeply share wonderful culture and tradition that are renowned to the world. In addition, the exchange between our two nations today is remarkably multilayered and wide-ranging, as well as the affinity and friendship which the peoples of our two nations mutually embrace are stronger than ever. Furthermore, the scale of economic relations and people-to-people exchanges between our two nations has dramatically expanded since our relationship was normalized, and our ties have become extremely solid while both sides have been improving together by friendly rivalry.
Japan and the Republic of Korea have become the most important and closest neighboring nation now in this 21st century, sharing such values as democracy, freedom and a market economy. Our relationship is not confined to our bilateral relations, but rather it is a partnership where we cooperate and exercise leadership for the peace and prosperity of the region and the world by encompassing a broad spectrum of agenda: the peace and stability of this region envisioning, among others, the future establishment of an East Asia community, the growth and development of the world’s economy, as well as issues of global scale such as nuclear disarmament, climate change, poverty and peace-building.
At this significant juncture of history, I strongly hope that our bond will become even more profound and solid between Japan and the Republic of Korea, and I declare my determination to make every ceaseless effort to open the future between our two nations.