Prime Minister Naoto Kan issued a statement Tuesday apologizing to South Korea for Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

"I express my deep remorse and heartfelt apology," Kan said, using similar wording to a landmark statement issued first in August 1995 by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama and reiterated in August 2005 by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Kan's statement, issued ahead of the Aug. 29 centennial of the annexation, clearly states that the peninsula was subjected to Japanese control against the people's will, they were deprived of their sovereignty and culture, and their dignity was deeply damaged.