SEOUL – South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun on Monday condemned as “reckless” efforts by Japanese leaders to “drum up” public support at the expense of other countries’ feelings, the Yonhap news agency reported.
Roh did not name Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi directly during a speech commemorating a Korean uprising against Japanese colonial rule 85 years ago. Yet his barbs appeared to be aimed at Koizumi’s repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors convicted Japanese war criminals as well as the nation’s war dead.
“A national leader should not behave like reckless members of the public or politicians who are driven to gain popularity,” Roh said during a speech marking the 85th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement, which saw millions of Koreans rise in protest over their Japanese colonial masters on March 1, 1919.
“(Japanese leaders) should not think that every problem has been solved just because Korean leaders do not bother to point out unresolved historical problems with regards to Japan’s law and system.”
Roh also stated that both South Korea and Japan should do their best to refrain from tarnishing diplomatic ties through careless remarks.
Since taking office in 2001, Koizumi has paid four visits to Yasukuni Shrine. The visits were made in spite of strong condemnation from China, North Korea and South Korea, where memories of Japanese colonial rule remain fresh.