'Emperor Akihito should apologise for Japan', says Lee Myung-Bak

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Emperor Akihito of Japan should follow the example of Germany in making a genuine gesture of contrition for his country’s wartime aggression in Asia, Lee Myung Bak, the South Korean President, has said.

In an interview with The Times and two Asian newspapers, 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.

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, speaking to The Times along with Chosun Ilbo and the Mainichi Shimbun newspapers 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.”

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