Park, Xi voice concern over Japan's moves to review history, collective self-defense

SEOUL, July 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping expressed concern Friday over Japan's recent moves seen as an attempt to whitewash its wartime atrocities and strengthen the role of its military, a senior presidential official in Seoul said.

The remarks came as Seoul and Beijing have been forging a united front against Japan's increasingly militaristic moves.

"(Park and Xi) agreed that it is worrying that Japan's attitude toward revising history continues as it even seeks to expand its right to self-defense," Ju Chul-ki, the senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs, said.

"The two leaders also agreed that it is regrettable that Japan appears to be attempting to damage and play down the Kono Statement in practice even though it has said it will inherit it."

Last month, Tokyo conducted a review of the Kono Statement, which acknowledges that women from Korea and other Asian nations were coerced into sexual servitude at Japanese military brothels during World War II.

The review claimed that the 1993 statement, named after then Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, had been fine-tuned between Seoul and Tokyo, suggesting it was not based on historical facts.

On Tuesday, meanwhile, Tokyo adopted a new interpretation of its constitution to exercise the right to collective self-defense, empowering Japan to fight alongside an ally even if the country itself is not attacked.

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