• Kyodo News


The administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan has decided to refrain from referring to the government’s view that the 1910 pact authorizing the annexation of the Korean Peninsula was concluded in a valid manner in accordance with international law in those days, government sources said Saturday.

The two nations signed the treaty exactly 100 years ago on Sunday. It took effect a week later.

Kan’s team decided to go with a nonreference policy in light of South Korea’s position that the 1910 Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty was voided because it was concluded by force.

But it will not review the views of preceding administrations, because that “would be tantamount to repudiating the assertion that the Japanese government has made since diplomatic relations were normalized” with South Korea in 1965, a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

Kan’s administration is focused on pursuing future-oriented ties with South Korea.

In a statement released Aug. 10, Kan apologized for Japan’s colonial rule of the peninsula from 1910 to 1945 and pledged to strive for “future-oriented” ties with South Korea. The nonreference policy, however, may draw flak from conservative politicians.

According to the sources, Kan and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada decided to basically uphold the position expressed in October 1995 by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama that the government “recognizes that (the treaty) was concluded in a legally valid manner against the backdrop of historical circumstances, including the international relations of those days.”

Kan’s team decided to adopt the nonreference policy because South Korea strongly condemned the position shortly after Murayama delivered it in a parliamentary statement, the sources said.

The same position — that the treaty was concluded in a legally valid manner — was adopted by the administrations of former Prime Ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Shinzo Abe through written answers issued at Cabinet meetings in response to questions from lawmakers.

Therefore, Kan’s nonreference policy may draw criticism from conservative lawmakers in both the Liberal Democratic Party and Kan’s own Democratic Party of Japan.

Many critics in South Korea have demanded Japan use the centenary of the pact’s signing to issue a more thorough apology to the nation.

At a news conference on Friday, Okada called attention to Article 2 of the “Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea,” signed on June 22, 1965, that says, “All treaties and agreements concluded between the Empire of Japan and the Empire of Korea on or before August 22, 1910 are already null and void.”

Okada told the news conference that the Japanese government “does not believe that there is any component that should be added to this.”

The 1965 treaty, signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries, provides the foundation for the two countries’ current relations.

Kan also told a news conference on Aug. 10 that his prime ministerial statement, in which Japan apologized for the colonial rule of the peninsula, “was based on the principles of the 1965 treaty.”

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