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An array of 58 Japanese and South Korean citizens’ groups on Thursday submitted a written request to both governments to take measures that will result in Japan apologizing to and compensating victims of Japan’s militarism before and during World War II.

The groups urged South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun, due to arrive Friday in Japan, not to tolerate Tokyo refusing to properly address these issues, which have often been taken up by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, group representatives said.

Japan has refused to pay compensation or make apologies to such victims on the grounds that all war-related issues were resolved in the Japan-South Korea normalization treaty of 1965.

The two countries can hardly establish a future-oriented, trustworthy partnership unless they deal with these issues, the groups said.

“Japan cannot have a real sense of pride as long as it hides the ugly past. An apology and compensation are the shortest way to peace and friendship,” said Koken Tsuchiya, a former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. who now leads a lawyers’ group calling for war compensation legislation.

Tsuchiya also criticized remarks made Saturday by Taro Aso, policy chief of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s Liberal Democratic Party, that the 1939 decree by the Japanese colonial rulers of Korea forcing Koreans to adopt Japanese names “stemmed from Koreans’ requests for surnames.”

Aso apologized Monday following a protest by South Korean, but he refused to retract the remarks.

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