Japan needs to reflect on colonial history - Seoul

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South Korea's foreign minister called on Thursday for Japanese leaders to reflect on the troubled history between the two Asian nations, a day after Seoul and Tokyo exchanged barbs over the issue.

Japan ruled Korea as a colony from 1910-1945 and despite generally improved ties, a simmering feud persists over what Seoul sees as Tokyo's lack of proper contrition for its wartime aggression.

"The leaders of Japan should seriously take to their hearts the view of our people (and president) on Japan's history issue," Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon told reporters.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun urged Japan on Wednesday to stop all actions that diluted its apology for its colonial rule.

"Japan has already apologised," Roh said in a speech marking a 1919 uprising in Korea against Japanese colonial rule. "We are objecting to actions that negate that apology," he said.

Tokyo responded by saying Japan has worked for peace and international stability since it was defeated in 1945.

"I want him (Roh) to closely look at the course Japan has taken in the 60 years since the end of the war," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters on Wednesday.

Seoul has said actions such as Koizumi's visits to a Tokyo war shrine, which critics say glorifies Japan's past militarism, have undermined apologies Japan's leaders have made about its colonial rule.

South Korea has also protested against Tokyo's approval of history textbooks that Seoul and Beijing say whitewash atrocities committed in Korea, China and other parts of Asia.

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