Tokyo 'regretful' about memorial hall for Korean independence fighter Ahn Jung-geunUpdated: 2014-01-21 06:29:26 (KST)
The Japanese government says it is "deeply regretful" about Beijing's decision to approve the opening of a memorial hall honoring Korean independence fighter Ahn Jung-geun.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga's response comes a day after the memorial hall opened to the public in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin.
The city's railway station is where, in 1909, Ahn shot and killed Hirobumi Ito, who served as prime minister of Japan and led preparations for the annexation of the Korean peninsula to Japan in the early 20th century.
"This is the place where the Japanese prime minister was murdered, and for us, this is the place where the terrorist, Ahn Jung-geun, was sentenced to death."
The memorial hall consists of exhibition rooms telling the story of Ahn's life, and shows the exact spot of Ito's asassination.
The facility was built after Korean President Park Geun-hye brought up the idea of creating a monument for Ahn during her meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping last June.
Although hailed as a hero in Korea and China, Ahn is considered a murderer by many in Japan.
Tokyo had asked Beijing to scrap plans to build the memorial and called the embassies of China and Korea to complain about the matter.
Beijing's decision to go ahead with the memorial comes amid already heightened tensions in the region.
Seoul and Beijing have condemned the visits by high-profile Japanese politicians to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine and for Tokyo's refusal to apologize for the country's wartime atrocities.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.
Strongly critical of the Japanese official's remarks, the Korean foreign ministry says Ahn is a highly-respected figure not only in Korea but around the world for the sacrifice he had made to achieve peace in Asia.
The ministry then said Ito was the main culprit who led Japan's invasion of Korea and it accused the Abe administration of glorifying Japan's imperialistic past.
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