THE HAGUE – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that Japan misunderstood the comments he made earlier this week about its need to have a “correct view of history.”
Ban told reporters at The Hague he regretted the misunderstanding in Japan about remarks he made Monday in Seoul on the political relationship between Japan, China and South Korea.
“I regret that there was misunderstanding on (the) Japanese side,” Ban said, adding what he said in Seoul was that political differences and tension “should be resolved through dialogue, by (a) strong will of leaders.”
The former South Korean foreign minister also emphasized that the three Northeast Asian countries need a “harmonious relationship,” especially in light of their close economic ties and the region’s potential for innovation.
According to the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, Ban met Wednesday with senior Vice Minister Masaji Matsuyama, who is now visiting the Netherlands, and told him that his remarks were neutral and not directed solely at Japan. Ban was also quoted as saying that it is regrettable his remarks made headlines.
“Political leaders need determination by having a correct view of the past history, and this will bring respect and trust from other countries,” Ban said Monday at a news conference in Seoul.
He was responding to a question about heightened tensions among China, South Korea and Japan mainly arising from territorial disputes and divergent views on Japan’s war of aggression in the 20th century.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday, “It is extremely questionable whether the secretary-general had knowledge of our stance when he made the comments.
“We will inquire about what he intended to say” through the United Nations, he added.
On Wednesday in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei released a statement saying the country “actively supports” Ban’s remarks, noting it is “the common voice of the international community” to call on Japan to reflect on and face up to its past history of aggression.
Hong said Japan needs to win the trust of the international community by respecting the feelings of the many victims of its aggression in Asia and taking concrete actions.
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