S. Korea slams Japan's minister for Nazi remarks

SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea lambasted Japan's finance minister Tuesday for his provocative remarks that link the Nazi regime to its constitutional revision and support the visit to its controversial war shrine.

During a lecture in Tokyo on Monday, Taro Aso, Japan's finance minister and deputy prime minister, said Japan should learn how Germany's constitution under the Weimar Republic was transformed by the Nazis in the early 1930s before anybody knew what was happening.

While his comments suggest that a constitutional revision be done in a discreet fashion, his mentioning of the Nazis triggered controversy over his view of history.

Aso also said it is natural to visit the Yasukuni shrine to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the country.

The Yasukuni shrine honors Japan's war dead, including 14 designated as Class A criminals by the allies in the trials that followed World War II. The visit to the shrine has outraged people in Asian countries, including South Korea and China, who see it as glorifying Japan's military past.

"Such remarks definitely hurt many people," Seoul's Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young told reporters on Tuesday.

"It is clear what such comments on the (Nazi) regime mean to people of the time and to those who suffer from Japan's imperialistic invasion," Cho said, calling on Tokyo's political leaders to "be prudent in their words and deeds."

He also stressed that the visit to the war shrine "should not take place," and urged Tokyo to take "a humble stance as an invader."

Ruling and main opposition parties here also denounced Aso's remarks in unison.

"Aso does not have a proper understanding of the new order that is forming in Northeast Asia," Rep. Hong Ji-man, a floor spokesman of the ruling Saenuri Party, said.

"Japanese leaders should not fantasize about the militarism or imperialism of the past, based on the parliamentary election results, but squarely face reality and think about Japan's position in the international community," he added.

In a statement, Park Yong-jin, a spokesman of the main opposition Democratic Party, also condemned the Abe government's provocative moves, calling them "an equal threat to the regional peace as North Korea's nuclear weapons development."

Relations between Seoul and Tokyo have been newly strained since April when Japanese ministers paid homage to the war shrine and made provocative remarks in an attempt to cover up the country's wartime atrocities.

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