SEOUL – A senior leader of South Korea’s ruling party called Japan a “terrorist state” for inflicting mass suffering on its neighbors in the past, after Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga applied the “terrorist” label to a Korean independence hero.
“If Ahn Jung-guen was a terrorist, then Japan was a terrorist state for having mercilessly invaded and plundered countries around it,” Hong Moon-jong, secretary-general of the Saenuri Party, said Tuesday.
Hong also said Japan has become “a subject of international condemnation for having twisted the historical facts, and with the visits by government officials to the Yasukuni Shrine.”
The controversial shrine in Tokyo honors Class-A World War II criminals along with the country’s war dead.
Hong further criticized Japan for “trying to glorify the misdeeds done in the past and hampering efforts for peace and cooperation with neighboring countries.”
“Japan, based on a thorough self-reflection, should offer a heart-felt apology not only for its remarks on the righteous fighter Ahn Jung-geun, but for its past wrongdoings,” Hong said.
On Monday, Suga told a news conference that Ahn was “a terrorist who received a death sentence” for the 1909 assassination of Hirobumi Ito, resident general of Japanese-ruled Korea, at a railway station in Harbin, China.
Suga’s remarks about Ahn came as he was criticizing the opening of a memorial hall in Ahn’s honor that opened Sunday in Harbin Railway Station. The hall was built at the suggestion of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
The South Korean government reacted to Suga by calling his remarks “ignorant and anti-historic.”
A statement issued by the South Korean Foreign Ministry said Ahn, who was executed in a Japanese prison in China on March 26, 1910, at the age of 30, “is a hero who had sacrificed himself for the recovery of Korea’s independence and for true peace in Asia.”
It said Ito was the main culprit in exerting inexpressible suffering and evil by masterminding the plundering of the Korean Peninsula.