S Korea presses Japan on wartime crimes

Updated: 2011-10-19 14:22


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SEOUL - South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Wednesday urged Japan to make more efforts to address Japan's colonial atrocities as the two countries seek forward-looking relations.

"Japan should make more active efforts to resolve issues" outstanding from Japan's 1910-45 colonial occupation of the Korean peninsula, Lee said during a joint press conference with Japan's new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda after their talks.

S Korea presses Japan on wartime crimes

South Korea's President Lee Myung-Bak (R) speaks next to Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda during a joint news conference at the Blue House in Seoul October 19, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

The two countries should "move forward" but should "not forget history," Lee said, adding the neighbors' ties affect peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

The summit talks came at a time when Seoul is pressing Tokyo, unsuccessfully so far, to compensate Korean women forced into sexual slavery during World War II.

Japan has claimed its 1965 Treaty of Basic Relations with South Korea, which formally normalized their ties, already addressed all legal issues concerning the comfort women.

Tokyo has rejected Seoul's recent proposal for talks over compensating Korean wartime sex slaves, often euphemistically called "comfort women," angering South Koreans.

S Korea presses Japan on wartime crimes

(Front row L to R) Lee Sun-duk, 94, Kang Il-chul, 83, Gil Won-ok, 83, Park Ok-sun, 87, and Lee Yong-soo, 82, former South Korean comfort women forced to serve the Japanese military during World War Two, shout slogans during their 992nd weekly anti-Japan rally in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul October 19, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

The two countries are also faced with a lasting dispute over a set of islets lying halfway between them, as Japan continues to claim South Korea illegally occupies the sparsely inhabited islands.

In an apparent attempt to mend diplomatic ties with Seoul, Noda brought with him five Korean books looted by Japan during its colonial rule. The documents are part of the 1,205-volume collection of Korean archives from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), including texts of royal protocols known as "Uigwe".

The partial retrieval comes after Noda's predecessor, Naoto Kan, pledged last year to return royal Korean books in a friendly gesture marking the 100th anniversary of the colonization.

At Wednesday's summit, Lee and Noda also agreed to further their joint efforts to deal with DPRK's nuclear issue as regional powers are seeking to bring Pyongyang back to the stalled Six-Party denuclearization talks.

On the economic front, they agreed to enhance working-level cooperation to discuss resuming negotiations for a potential two- way free trade agreement. Preliminary negotiations for a possible deal hit a snag in 2004 after the two economic powerhouses failed to narrow their differences.

The leaders also discussed expanding their currency swap lines to help stabilize their financial markets. The won-yen swap deal will be boosted to $30 billion from the current $3 billion, according to the Bank of Korea.

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