South Korean president wants Emperor Akihito to apologize for Japan

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    [Update] Thanks to readers for reminding me about this statement South Korean President Lee Myung Bak made when taking office ten months ago:

    President-elect Lee Myung-bak on Thursday said there will be no more demands for apologies from Japan during his presidency. “For a new, mature Seoul-Tokyo relationship, I don’t want to ask them to apologize for, or examine themselves” over colonial rule of Korea, Lee told foreign reporters at an event organized by the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club at the Korea Press Center in Seoul.

    He demands an apology

    South Korean president Lee Myung Bak has told the Times that he wants Japan’s emperor to come to Korea and fall to his knees in apology for what Japan did during its colonization of Korea:

    In an interview with The Times Mr Lee made a comparison with the late German Chancellor, Willy Brandt, whose genuflection before a monument to murdered Polish Jews became a symbol of postwar German contrition for the horrors of the Holocaust and the Second World War.

    on his knees

    No Japanese leader has made a similar gesture and Tokyo’s repeated verbal statements of regret and apology have failed to erase lingering resentment of Japan, more than 60 years after the country’s wartime surrender.

    “Willy Brandt touched a firm emotional chord with the whole of the Polish people, Europeans and indeed the world,” Mr Lee said, in the presidential Blue House in Seoul. “That was a turning point in the partnership between the countries of Europe. And the visit of the Emperor of Japan could be a similar occasion when relations between Korea and Japan can really look forward.”

    A search of the New York Times’ archives reveals that Emperor Akihito, who was a child during the war, has already made at least one statement of apology to South Korean leaders in 1990. Wikipedia’s long list of Japanese apologies also contains a statement Akihito made in 1996 at a dinner honoring then-president Kim Dae Jung:

    “There was a period when our nation brought to bear great sufferings upon the people of the Korean Peninsula. The deep sorrow that I feel over this will never be forgotten.”


    [via FG]

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