Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Murayama: Japan has consensus on '95 apology

Former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama has assured South Koreans that his country's government and people uphold his 1995 apology for its wartime past.

Murayama offered the assurance in a speech to South Korean lawmakers in Seoul on Wednesday, and called on them to mend strained ties with Japan. He had been invited to the capital by opposition lawmakers.

As prime minister in 1995, Murayama issued a statement expressing deep remorse and a heartfelt apology for Japan's aggression and colonial rule in Asia.

He said successive Japanese governments have honored the statement, and that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet says it, too, inherits it.

Murayama stressed that the statement has a national consensus, and asked the lawmakers to feel at ease about Japan's view of history.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye said last month that the successive Japanese governments' upholding of Murayama's statement and another in 1993 on so-called comfort women has been the foundation for bilateral ties.

The 1993 statement was issued by then chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono, who apologized to women forced to serve Japanese soldiers in wartime brothels. Many of the women were from the Korean Peninsula.