[JURIST] Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada [official profile] on Thursday offered an apology to Korea for Japan's 20th-century colonization of the Korean peninsula. At a meeting in Seoul with South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan [official profile], Okada said that the Japanese government regrets its history of colonial rule [Korea Times report] over Korea and the alleged war crimes that resulted. Okada also praised the 1995 Murayama Statement [text], the most notable public apology for Japanese imperialism, in which the Japanese government pledged to promote peace with its Asian neighbors. Okada and Myung-Hwan agreed to work toward a more stabilized relationship [AFP report] between their countries.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Japan's annexation of Korea, which lasted from 1910 to 1945. Japan is accused of committing war crimes during its imperial years, and the two countries still suffer from diplomatic conflicts and competition over disputed territory [Xinhua report]. Recently, Okada has been busy promoting more conciliatory foreign policy under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama [official website, in Japanese], who came to office last September. Last week, Okada met with ambassadors from eight countries to consider signing an international treaty [JURIST report] that will help prevent parental child abductions across borders.