South Korean President Park Geun-hye has urged Japanese leaders to perceive history in a straightforward way, revealing her doubts about whether Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would inherit past apologies made by his predecessors.
"I hope to move towards future-oriented relationship with Japan based on correct understanding of history, "Park said in an interview with CNN, according to the statement posted Tuesday on the website of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
"It has been my desire to leave to my future generations a legacy of friendship and a legacy of being able to work together," Park said.
Park urged the current Japanese leaders to honor the past apologies made by former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono and former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama.
"We were able to move forward with Korea's relationship with Japan over the years because Japanese political leaders have clearly stated through the Murayama as well as the Kono statement their correct understanding of history and this has allowed us to move our relationship forward," said Park.
Murayama said in his 1995 speech that Japan"caused tremendous damage and suffering to the peoples of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations" through its colonial rule and aggression following a mistaken national policy that led to war.
Two years earlier, Kono made an official apology to comfort women, or South Korean women forced to be mobilized by Japan as sex slaves during the World War II.
Park's comments came amid the frayed ties between Seoul and Tokyo after Japan's cabinet members visited the controversial Yasukuni shrine, a symbol of Japan's militarism with 14 class-A convicted war criminals enshrined.
The South Korea's first woman leader has harshly denounced the Japanese leadership for no repentance over its past brutalities during the colonial rule of South Korea from 1910 to 1945, citing the sex slaves who served in the Japanese military brothels during the World War II.
Park had yet to hold summit with Abe though her predecessors selected Japan as the second destination for their overseas trip. Park made a state visit to China in June last year for summit talks after visiting the United Sates a month earlier.
"Park's comments on the Kono and Murayama statements reveal her doubts about Abe's pledge. Abe recently vowed to inherit past governments (including past apologies)," Jin Chang-soo, director of Japan study at a private Sejong Institute in Seoul, told Xinhua on Tuesday.
Jin said that Japan should make clear its position on the historical issue as relations between Seoul and Tokyo have been developed based on its apology over past atrocities, forecasting that given the recent visits of Japanese politicians to the war- linked shrine, summit talks between Park and Abe will not be held in a foreseeable future.
Abe showed his willingness to seek dialogue with South Korea as well as China, but Park has dismissed the call for a summit citing the anachronistic history perceptions of Japanese leaders.
Park said in an interview with Bloomberg last week that the Abe government has repeated words and acts, which deny and reverse past apologies such as the Kono and Murayama statements that Japan had officially sustained.
Asked about whether to shake hands with Abe at the Davos forum, Park said that it cannot be a matter of a hand-shake, noting that South Korea cannot pretend nothing has happened in relations with Japan.
Park and Abe will be in Davos, Switzerland next week for the World Economic Forum.