• Kyodo

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Amid a controversy over Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit Monday to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo and Japan’s approval of controversial history textbooks, South Korean President Kim Dae Jung on Wednesday said that the South Korean people “earnestly hope that Korea-Japan relations run on a right course on the basis of a firm historical consciousness.”

In a nationally televised speech on the 56th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule, Kim, however, said, “Many conscientious Japanese citizens watched with apprehension the distortion of history and their prime minister’s paying tribute at the controversial war shrine.”

He was speaking at Independence Hall in Cheonan, South Chungchong Province.

Kim said, “To our disappointment, however, some people in Japan are attempting to distort history, casting dark clouds over Korea-Japan relations again.”

Aug. 15 is Liberation Day in South Korea, marking the end of decades of Japanese rule after Japan’s defeat in World War II.

Outrage against Koizumi’s visit to the controversial Shinto shrine, where convicted and executed Class A war criminals are among the 2.47 million Japanese war dead enshrined, was particularly strong in China and South Korea.

“How can we make good friends with people who try to forget and ignore the many pains they inflicted on us?” Kim said.

“How can we deal with them in the future with any degree of trust? Those are questions that we have about the Japanese,” he said.

On Tuesday, South Korean Vice Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Choi Sung Hong summoned Japanese Ambassador Terusuke Terada to his office and lodged a protest over Koizumi’s shrine visit.

“It is very regrettable that (Koizumi) paid homage to the Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of Japan’s militarism, in defiance of our government’s repeated expressions of concern,” Choi was quoted as telling Terada.

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