Thursday, October 8, 1998 Published at 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
Japanese 'remorse' over Korea rule
Former South Korean comfort women demand compensation
The Japanese Prime Minister, Keizo Obuchi, has expressed his country's "deep remorse" for the suffering caused during Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
"The apology in the declaration is different from previous statements by the Japanese government in terms of form and gravity," he said.
"It's extremely significant that we have turned a new page in our relationship.
Declaration included financial aid
"We must settle the accounts of the 20th century ... as we enter the 21st century," President Kim Dae-jung said.
But the thousands of South Korean women forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army, angrily rejected Tokyo's apology.
"Today's apology was disappointing as it was not different from the past," said Han Kuk-Yom, of a group representing the former "comfort women" forced into prostitution for the Japanese army.
"We will not accept anything less," she said.
Earlier, Japan's Emperor Akihito had also expressed "deep sorrow" over the suffering inflicted by Japan on the Korean people.
He was speaking at a state banquet to welcome the visiting South Korean President.
"The deep sorrow which I feel over this never leaves my memory," the Emperor said, using similar wording to the statement of regret he made to former prisoners of war on his state visit to the UK.
The BBC Seoul correspondent Andrew Wood says the two countries have recently been brought closer together by issues which pose a common threat.
North Korea's firing of a multi-stage ballistic missile over Japan recently brought home a reminder of the possible military threat from Pyongyang. According to the Japanese prime minister's office, proposals for six-party talks on the situation in North Korea will be put to President Kim.
Japan's lengthy financial crisis also worries South Korea, which itself is suffering its worst economic conditions for 40 years.
South Koreans are concerned about the loss of one of their most important export markets and the falling yen may mean more competition on international markets from cheaper Japanese goods.