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(LEAD) S. Korean parliamentary speaker calls for genuine repentance from Japan

All Headlines 07:56 March 05, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES with Chung's meeting with U.S. lawmakers in paras 5-9, 12)
By Chang Jae-soon

WASHINGTON, March 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korean National Assembly Speaker Chung Eui-hwa said Wednesday that genuine repentance for Japan's imperialistic past should be the basis for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's possible speech before the U.S. Congress.

Chung made the remark to reporters during a visit to the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, saying genuine reconciliation can be realized only when each side "acknowledges what should be acknowledged and apologizes for what should be apologized for."

"Only when Japan apologizes sincerely for the past and backs it up with action can South Korea and Japan realize genuine harmony and reconciliation," Chung said. "I hope Japan will ponder the importance of historical perception emphasized" in a House resolution about Japan's wartime sexual enslavement of women, he said.

Abe is seeking to deliver a speech before Congress when he makes a visit to Washington expected for late April. Should he be invited to speak before a joint session of the House and the Senate, he will be the first Japanese prime minister to do so.

During a lunch meeting hosted by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Chung stressed Japan should have a clear perception of World War II history if it wants to become a genuine leader in the international community.

U.S. lawmakers attending the meeting, including Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Mike Honda (D-CA), said that fathers of American lawmakers fought Imperial Japan and that Tokyo should acknowledge its past and live harmoniously with its neighbors.

Chung also met with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

During the meeting, the first of its kind since 2005, Chung said that in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, South Korea's National Assembly plans to adopt a resolution calling for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue and peaceful unification.

He proposed that the U.S. Congress join South Korea in adopting such a resolution. Boehner said in response that it is a good idea and he looks forward to working with the South Korean parliament, according to South Korean officials.

Earlier in the day, Chung paid his respects at Arlington National Cemetery.

He also met with retired Col. Thomas Fergusson, a grandson of Gen. Edward Almond (1892-1979), known for his decision to dump all weapons overboard to get more refugees aboard evacuation ships when the U.S.-backed South Korean forces began retreating from North Korea during the Korean War.

On Thursday, Chung is scheduled to hold meetings with U.S. government officials and deliver a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). But it was unclear if those meetings would be held as planned because the U.S. federal government could be closed due to a winter storm.

Chung is scheduled to visit the United Nations in New York on Friday.


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