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(LEAD) S. Korean FM warns Japan against 'shifting to the right'
SEOUL, Nov. 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan on Thursday warned Japan against "shifting to the right," saying Seoul will maintain its vigilance on any attempts by Tokyo to act more confrontationally in territorial and other issues.

   "Japan has taken an extremely conservative and offensive approach over territorial and other matters and there are concerns that Japan is shifting to the right," Kim told a forum hosted by the Korea Employers Federation.

   "Overall, the political situation in Japan is showing signs of rightward shift and some say Japan is increasingly becoming nationalistic. We are closely watching the situation and will be prepared to cope with it," Kim said in unusually blunt remarks.

   Kim made the remarks as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who took office in August 2011, dissolved parliament last week ahead of a general election next month.


Japan's opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), headed by newly-elected leader Shinzo Abe, has been widely expected to win most seats in the upcoming election. Abe, seen as a hawk, angered South Korea and China last month after paying a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine that glorifies Japan's militarist past.

   The LDP also reportedly unveiled a slew of election pledges this week including a proposal to give a more muscular role to Japan's Self-Defense Forces.

   "I understand that there are many concerns because Japan's Liberal Democratic Party has introduced some rightward policy directions," Kim said.

   "Again, I would like to make it clear that we will not compromise with Japan with regard to territorial and history-related issues."
South Korea and Japan have been at odds over Tokyo's renewed claims to Seoul's easternmost islets of Dokdo, and China has a similar row with Japan over a group of East China Sea islets.

   Highlighting the regional diplomatic tensions, South Korea and China shunned bilateral summits with Japan usually held on the sidelines of annual summits hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this week. The three countries also skipped their customary trilateral meeting on the margins of the regional summit.

   Also on Thursday, foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young took a thinly veiled swipe at the rightward policy pledges by Japan's LDP.

   "We expect Japan to make history, rather than repeating history," Cho said. "We will closely watch what kind of a nation some forces in Japan try to bring back."