A senior leader of South Korea's ruling party called Japan a "terrorist state" for inflicting mass suffering on its neighbors in the past, after Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga applied the "terrorist" label to a Korean independence hero.

"If Ahn Jung-guen was a terrorist, then Japan was a terrorist state for having mercilessly invaded and plundered countries around it," Hong Moon-jong, secretary-general of the Saenuri Party, said Tuesday.

Hong also said Japan has become "a subject of international condemnation for having twisted the historical facts, and with the visits by government officials to the Yasukuni Shrine."