South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday stressed the importance of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's right perception of history that could be reflected in his upcoming statement later this month to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
When meeting with Katsuya Okada, head of Japan's main opposition Democratic Party, Park said "reconciliation with the past" is more important than anything else to develop relations between South Korea and Japan in a stable way.
Okada, who took office as the party chief in January, picked Seoul as the first destination for his overseas trip, the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said in a statement.
Park met with Okada along with four other Japanese lawmakers and Japanese ambassador to South Korea.
Improvement in the Seoul-Tokyo ties was based on historical perceptions of previous Japanese governments as shown in the Murayama and Kono statements, which repented of its past wrongdoings like the war of aggression and the 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula, Park said.
Park expected the Abe statement to lay foundation for a forward- looking future between the two neighbors by "clearly reaffirming" historical perceptions shown in previous statements.
The Kono statement refers to an official apology made in 1993 by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, who acknowledged the imperialistic Japan was involved in the recruitment of more than 200,000 young women, mostly Koreans, as sex slaves in military brothels during WWII.
The Murayama statement was issued in 1995 by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama to apologize to its Asian neighbors that suffered from Japan's colonial rule and wartime atrocities.
Park said seven South Korean victims of the sex slavery passed away in 2015 alone and only 48 victims are alive, stressing the urgency of the issue that should be resolved right away as the last chance may remain given the old age of the victims, mostly in their late 80s.
Touching on the forced passage of security legislation through Japan's lower house of parliament, Park noted that she anticipates transparent discussions within Japan in a way that holds on to the spirit of the pacifist constitution and contributes to regional peace and stability.
South Korea and Japan would hold the first defense policy meeting in more than two years in Seoul Wednesday, where the two sides are expected to discuss the passage of the security bills in Japan.
The security bills were aimed at allowing Japan's Self-Defense Forces to join military conflicts overseas for its allies, especially the United States, even when Japan's territory is not attacked, drawing criticism at home that it violates Japan's pacifist constitution.
Regarding the possible summit between Park and Abe, Park said that remaining issues between the two countries should be resolved one by one to improve bilateral ties and contribute to forming an atmosphere for the summit with Abe.
Park has refused to sit down face-to-face with Abe since her inauguration in February 2013, citing Abe's wrong perception of history.
Despite the lingering issues on history, Seoul and Tokyo can strengthen dialogue and cooperation on security and economic issues, the president added.
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