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S. Korea summons Japanese ambassador over Abe's remarks, shrine visits
SEOUL, April 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun summoned the Japanese ambassador to Seoul on Thursday to lodge a protest against nationalistic remarks made by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visits to a controversial war shrine, a government official said.

   The fragile ties between South Korea and Japan came under fresh strain after visits over the weekend by Japanese ministers to the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo that glorifies Japan's wartime atrocities. Adding to the tension, Abe apparently raised doubts over Japan's history of "invasion" during a parliamentary session this week.

   "Japan has a history of inflicting damage on neighboring countries for a long time and such history can't be easily forgotten," said the senior official at Seoul's foreign ministry, criticizing Japanese leaders for "not taking a responsible attitude" toward such history.

   South Korea expressed "deep concern and regret" over the visits to the shrine, which honors past Japanese aggression that caused huge loss and pain to the people of neighboring countries and enshrines its war criminals.

   In a diplomatic reprisal, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se scraped his planned visit to Japan this week.

   During a parliamentary meeting on Tuesday, Abe reportedly told lawmakers that he was doubtful of the exact definition of "invasion," saying it can vary depending on who defines it. The remarks were apparently aimed at glossing over Japan's history of invasion and aggression during World War II.

   On Wednesday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye called for Japan to have a correct understanding of history.

   "Korea-Japan relations are very important in security, economy and all other aspects. But it would be difficult (for the two countries) to move in a future-oriented manner if (Japan) holds incorrect perceptions of history and makes past scars worse," Park said at a meeting with managing editors of newspapers and broadcasters.

   Park also said that Japan should work "harmoniously with the international community." If Japan continues its move to the right, its relations with many countries in Asia will become difficult, which is indeed not desirable for Japan as well, she said.