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Monday, 19 February, 2001, 23:37 GMT
Korea furious over Japan WWII remarks
Hosei Norota surrounded by reporters
Mr Norota (centre) defended Japan's aggression in Asia
The South Korean Government has reacted furiously to remarks by a senior Japanese politician on World War II, and urged Japan to act responsibly so as not to damage bilateral relations.

Faced with oil and other embargoes from other countries, Japan had no choice but to venture out southward to secure natural resources. In other words, Japan had fallen prey to a scheme of the US

Hosei Norota
The Korean Foreign Ministry issued a statement after Hosei Norota, chairman of the Budget Committee of the powerful Japanese Lower House, said his country was not to blame for its entry into World War II and had been forced into action by the US.

Mr Norota also appeared to justify Japan's invasion of much of Asia, saying that it had brought an end to neo-colonialism.

The remarks were also expected to draw an angry reaction from other countries across Asia and to exacerbate the problems of embattled Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori.


We regret Mr Norota's remarks which glamorised the war and distorted the pain of Asian countries. His remarks are not desirable for Japan of for bilateral co-operation

Korean statement
The Korean statement said the remarks glamorised the war, and neglected the agony Japan inflicted on its neighbours.

"His remarks are not desirable for Japan or for bilateral co-operation," the statement said.

It also called on Mr Norota to speak more prudently and depict his nation's history accurately in the future.

Mr Norota has also been criticised by opposition politicians in Japan, who are considering whether to submit a no-confidence motion in him.

PM's troubles

"It is entirely possible that there will be an international reaction, especially in Asia," Democratic Party senior executive Tsutomu Hata told a news conference.

Yoshiro Mori
Yoshiro Mori: Trying to steer away from crises
Mr Mori himself declined to comment directly on Mr Norota's remarks, but he said the government stood by the statement made by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995 on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war.

Japan occupied Korea in 1910 and colonised it for 35 years, suppressing Korean culture and language.

Relations between the two countries have warmed significantly since the Korean President Kim Dae Jung met the late Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi in 1998.

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