S. Korean newspaper column angers Japanese officials

A recent column in the South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo describing the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as "divine punishment" has drawn protests from the Japanese government and those two cities.

"The expressions used in the article were really ridiculous," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference Thursday. As the world's only country having suffered nuclear bombings, Japan "never forgives such views," he said.

In the column dated Monday, an editorial writer also criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other Japanese leaders for their views on history.

"I can't stand reading it as the column brought up God, whose existence is impossible to prove," said Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui. "I want the writer to stop hurting the bombing victims and those in Japan and South Korea who long for the abolition of nuclear weapons."

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue said, "The column is a product of personal feelings without a logical argument. Various remarks have worsened bilateral relations, and it seems both sides are getting hysterical."

Earlier in the week, the Japanese Embassy in South Korea told the newspaper that publication of the article was regrettable. The newspaper is said to have told the embassy that the column does not reflect the views of the company.