Japan and South Korea must establish “future-oriented relations” while working to resolve differences in interpretation over Japan’s 1910-1945 colonization of the Korean Peninsula, South Korean President Kim Dae Jung said Thursday in a speech to the Diet.”The time has come for the two countries to look squarely at our past and establish future-oriented relations,” Kim said in the 30-minute speech. “Japan needs true courage to squarely face the past … and the Republic of Korea needs to correctly evaluate Japan’s changing attitude and find hope in future possibilities,” he said.A joint declaration signed Thursday by Kim and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi is a milestone in efforts to overcome the differences, the South Korean president said. “I firmly believe that this declaration will settle the issue of recognizing the past history between the governments of our countries and will become the foundation for joint endeavors for future peace and prosperity,” Kim said in the speech.Kim said in his speech that Japan has changed since the end of World War II, adding that the Japanese people have realized the development of parliamentary democracy and a remarkable economic growth. However, he also said that some Asian people are still suspicious about Japan’s perspective of history.”There are many people in Asia, including Korea, who still cannot discard their suspicions of Japan and their concerns. This is because they believe Japan has not done enough on its own to understand correctly and reflect humbly upon its past,” Kim said. “It must be said that the fact that such doubts and mistrust still exist is very unfortunate not only for Japan but also for all the countries in Asia,” he said.Kim made the harsh remarks on history apparently because the South Korean people are dissatisfied with occasional remarks by some politicians to justify Japan’s colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula.Several senior members of the Liberal Democratic Party expressed opposition Wednesday to Obuchi’s apologizing for colonial rule in the joint document.
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