Japan must make 'sincere' efforts on history issues: Seoul

SEOUL, July 11 (Yonhap) -- Japan should make "sincere" efforts to resolve outstanding historical issues with South Korea if Tokyo wants to rebuild trust and develop bilateral relations, South Korea's vice foreign minister said Thursday.

First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun made the remarks during a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Akitaka Saiki, who arrived in Seoul earlier in the day for a two-day visit.

"The most important thing for stable development of the Korea-Japan relations is sincere efforts by the Japanese government in dealing with outstanding historical issues," Kim told Saiki during the meeting.

"By doing so, the Japanese government could rebuild trust, which is important in developing bilateral relations with Korea," Kim said, noting that close cooperation between the two nations is crucial for peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.

In return, Saiki said, "The Abe administration adheres to the positions of previous administrations as a whole over the historical issues."

Saiki was apparently referring to a 1995 apology by the then-Japanese prime minister, Tomiichi Murayama, who sympathized with the sufferings Koreans endured during Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula for 36 years until 1945.

Despite close economic and other ties between South Korea and Japan, enmity runs deep among Koreans against Japan over their shared history.

Japan has long laid claims to South Korea's easternmost islets of Dokdo in its school textbooks and government reports. South Korea has viewed the claims as a sign that Japan does not fully repent for its imperialist past.

South Korea has also said the territorial claims amount to Japan denying Korea's independence, because the country reclaimed sovereignty over its territory -- including Dokdo and many other islands around the Korean Peninsula -- when it regained independence from Japan.

South Korea has kept a small police detachment on Dokdo islets since 1954.

Vestiges of the brutal colonial past remain in South Korea as some survivors of Japan-mobilized forced labor and sex slavery have filed multiple law suits for compensation.

The two countries normalized relations in 1965.

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