South Korean President Park Geun Hye on Thursday urged Japanese politicians to show "brave leadership" in resolving issues arising from Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
"I urge Japanese politicians to show brave leadership in healing wounds of the past, and that's how Japan could become a partner for a genuine cooperation," Park said in a speech delivered in a ceremony marking when Japan's occupation came to an end.
Park also called on the Japanese government to take "responsible and sincere measures for those who are living with sufferings and wounds arisen from the past history," apparently referring to so-called "comfort women" who were forced into sexual servitude by the Japanese military before and during World War II.
She said Japan is an important neighbor which South Korea could work together with to establish peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia, but "recent situations surrounding issues of the past history make the future of the two countries dark."
"It would be difficult to build trust needed to move into the future without being courageous in looking squarely into the past and having the attitude of being considerate of others' sufferings."
Relations between South Korea and Japan have been strained in recent years over a dispute on South Korea-controlled islets claimed by Japan, and also divergent views of history.
Earlier Thursday, two of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet ministers visited the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender in WWII.
South Korea views Yasukuni, which is dedicated to 2.5 million mostly Japanese soldiers killed in past wars including convicted Class-A war criminals from WWII, as a symbol of Japanese past militarism, and previous visits to the Shinto shrine by Japanese political leaders have strained relations.