SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's political parties on Tuesday noted the Japanese prime minister's apology for his nation's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula as "progress," but said it was still "not enough" to make up for the past.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan expressed "deep regret" for the suffering inflicted during his country's 1910-45 colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula ahead of the 100th anniversary this month of the annexation of the Korean Peninsula. Kan said his government plans to return cultural artifacts, including some royal records of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), taken from the peninsula.
The statement, however, stopped short of mentioning the issue of the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of Korean men for forced labor and women for sexual slavery during the colonial period.
The ruling Grand National Party said the statement was "a step forward" from similar statements issued by former Japanese prime ministers, but "not enough to allay" Korean people's decades-long anger over Japan's wartime misdeeds.
The statement "has no mention of illegitimacy of the forced annexation and Koreans forced to work as sex slaves or manual laborers by the Japanese army," Ahn Hyoung-hwan, a spokesman of the party, said.
Japan should repent its past more honestly if it wants to build a future-oriented relationship with South Korea, he added.
The main opposition Democratic Party echoed the GNP's remarks.
"I still cannot stop doubting the sincerity of the apology," Jeon Hyun-heui, spokeswoman of the party, said, noting that two things -- a declaration that the forced annexation of the peninsula is void and direct references to the Korean victims of the colonial rule -- were missing in the statement.
"Japan's plan to return some of the Korean artifacts now in its possession is progress, but more important is that the country should come up with a sincere follow-up measure," Jeon said.
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