Korean lawmakers welcomed former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama to the National Assembly on Wednesday, a man they believe presents a way forward in Korea-Japan relations.
Murayama took office in 1994 as the first socialist prime minister in nearly 50 years.
On August 15th, 1995 marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War Two, Murayama publicly acknowledged that Japan caused tremendous suffering to the people of many countries, especially in Asia, during times of war.
He expressed deep remorse for the victims of his country's past actions.
Speaking to Korean lawmakers Wednesday, Murayama said the spirit of the landmark statement led to the Korea-Japan Joint Declaration of 1998 which called on the two countries to forge friendly and cooperative relations entering the 21st century.
Saying that this framework triggered friendly bilateral exchanges of people and culture, Murayama urged the current Abe administration to respect the spirit of the Murayama Statement.
"After my term ended, the Liberal Democratic Party came to power. All LDP administrations adhered to the Murayama Statement. Abe's first Cabinet also did. Taking office for the second time, Abe told parliament he would honor the statement, although there have been mis-steps."
Murayama also acknowledged that Japan's use of women as military sex slaves during wartimes damaged the dignity of women.
"Former Japanese prime minister Murayama also said the governments of Korea and Japan should begin discussing how to settle historical issues, including the compensation of Korean victims forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War Two. He stressed that the spirit of the Murayama Statement will be key to forging friendly relations between the two countries.
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News."