U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Japan to have an introspection and face up history with the correct perspective to foster relations with its neighbors and ease tension in the region.
Addressing a news conference in Seoul on Monday, he also called on leaders of South Korea, China and Japan to "open-mindedly" discuss contentious issues for a "future-oriented solution based on the correct historical understanding."
"I think the political leaders of the Japanese government need a very profound introspection about how to perceive history and how the right history helps to maintain good-neighbor relations in a future-oriented way, and a vision to look ahead into the global future," he was quoted by South Korean media as saying at the press conference.
A former South Korean Foreign Minister, Ban was on a six-day home visit during which he is scheduled to address the international rowing championship and to meet with President Park Geun-hye and Prime Minister Chung Hong-won.
Recent visit of some Japanese Cabinet Ministers and political leaders to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo and remarks defending the country's wartime transgressions had irked South Korea and China which had suffered Japanese occupation during the World War II. The shrine is dedicated to Japan's war-dead, including some convicted criminals. Tokyo's ties with Seoul and Beijing turned sour further by disputes over the Dokdo islets in the East Sea and the Senkaku or Diayou islands in the East China Sea.
"The three Northeast Asian countries are virtually the center of economic development, scientific development and innovation and play a crucial role on various fronts. But as a U.N. secretary-general, I regret that tension persists between them due to recent historical issues or other political reasons," Ban said.
Leaders of these countries need a "broader perspective, political resolve and the right perception of history" to ensure peace and prosperity of the region, he added.
On North Korea, the U.N. chief said he would seek a visit to the communist state "in due course," and noted the recent progress in cross-border relations.
The two Koreas had agreed last week to hold the first reunions of separated families in three years at Mount Geumgangsan next month, following an earlier breakthrough on the reopening of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the joint inter-Korean economic project north of the demilitarized zone.
"I have reiterated that I am ready to undertake any role as the U.N. Secretary-General for the positive development of inter-Korean relations," Ban said.
"As their relations gradually make headway, my position is that the relevant parties should first resolve the problems through dialogue, and while providing political help from the side, I will review my trip to the North at the fit opportunity in consultation with the North Korean and South Korean governments," he said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Senator John McCain urged Japanese and South Korean leaders to start dialogue to improve relations in the context of the rise of China as a regional power and North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Japanese media reported.
The U.S. Congress leader, who called for early summit talks between the two countries, also referred to the so-called comfort women issue. Many women from Korea, China and other Asian countries were forced to work in military brothels to serve Japanese soldiers during World War II.
McCain expressed sympathy for the feelings of the South Korean public, but he said what happened in the past, however terrible and tragic, should not be the reason why there should be no progress in relations.
by RTT Staff Writer
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