President Moon Jae-in insisted that Japan needs to take a humbler approach in dealing with the bad blood caused by the two countries' (quote) "unfortunate history," referring to Japan's colonization of Korea in the early 20th century.
Whether or not Seoul and Tokyo have a future-oriented relationship, he said, is up to Japan.
"These are not problems that were created by the South Korean government."
Last October, South Korea's Supreme Court ordered a Japanese steel company to compensate the Koreans it forced to work without pay during World War 2.
And on Wednesday, another court ordered the company's assets frozen ahead of their likely seizure.
Right away, Japan called in the South Korean ambassador to file a complaint, calling the move (quote) "extremely regrettable."
Japan has argued that a treaty between Seoul and Tokyo in 1965, which reestablished diplomatic relations between the two countries, should have settled all disputes and said the courts' decisions are a breach of the treaty and international law.
President Moon said the treaty did not resolve all issues for the victims and urged the Japanese government to respect judicial decisions.
"I don't think it is wise for Japanese politicians and leaders to continue to politicize such issues, creating and spreading controversy."
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Regarding social issues in South Korea, President Moon said the gender gap, one of the largest in the developed world, is a shameful reality. He insisted that his administration has been and will continue trying to break the glass ceiling.
And when asked about criticisms of his appointment of former journalists as senior staff members, seen by some as an inappropriate relationship between the government and the press, President Moon insisted that it is no such thing and that the appointments were based only on their competence.
President Moon Jae-in once again stressed that Seoul and Tokyo must combine their wisdom to resolve these wartime issues and not undermine their forward-looking relationship.
Along with peace on the Peninsula and tangible results in the economy,… normalizing South Korea's relations with Japan is another challenge the Moon administration will have to face this year.
Hwang Hojun, Arirang News.