South Korean President Kim Dae Jung hopes to hear Japan’s “sincere apology and regret” over its past conduct toward Korean people during his visit to Tokyo next month, the country’s ambassador to Japan said Wednesday.

President Kim hopes to establish a new partnership with Japan into the 21st century by resolving contentious issues arising from a bitter history of bilateral relations, ambassador Kim Suk Kyu told at a luncheon at the National Press Club.

Kim did not elaborate, but the issues are thought to include that of South Korean “comfort women,” who were sent to frontline brothels for the Japanese army before and during World War II. They may also include repeated comments by some Japanese politicians who try to justify Japan’s 1910-1945 annexation of the Korean Peninsula.

President Kim is scheduled to visit Japan on Oct. 7-10 to hold talks with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. It will be Kim’s first visit to Japan following his swearing-in as president in February.

Kim said that the president’s visit is a good opportunity to resolve issues that took place during the 20th century before the start of the next century. “Past incidents should not prevent the two countries from expanding relations into the future,” Ambassador Kim said.

Cooperative relations between Japan and South Korea are critical because the situation in Northeast Asia is unstable even after the end of the Cold War, he said.

The ambassador said that the two countries need to share common views of the past. Resolution of the past is also important to make the 2002 World Cup soccer finals successful, Kim said. Japan and South Korea are due to cosponsor the tournament.

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