Building an unshakable nation, that was the theme of President Moon's message to mark August 15th, the nation's Liberation Day, celebrating the end of Japan's colonial rule in 1945.
"Today, I renew my commitment to meeting the aspirations of the people to build an unshakable nation by reminding myself of our people who have demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of a series of crises."
Speaking during a national ceremony held at the Independence Hall of Korea in Cheonan, Chungcheongnam-do Province, President Moon Jae-in said the nation should become a responsible economic powerhouse and cooperate with Japan on an "equal" footing.
Referring to Japan's retaliatory trade restrictions against South Korea, launched at the start of July, the president sent out a clear message that his nation will overcome such trade controls.
"In the face of Japan's unwarranted export restrictions, we will continue our determined march toward being a responsible economic powerhouse."
Highlighting that the neighbors should overcome the past and move towards the future, the president said Japan should stop using trade as a "weapon."
"Within the international division of labor, if any country weaponizes a sector where it has a comparative advantage, the peaceful free trade order will inevitably suffer damages. A country that achieved growth first must not kick the ladder away while others are following in its footsteps."
This, in reference to Japan recently removing South Korea from its whitelist of trusted trade partners, in apparent retaliation for Seoul's handling of the issue of compensation to Korean victims of Japan's wartime forced labor.
But President Moon "gladly" left the door open for possible dialogue between Seoul and Tokyo, should Japan choose the path of cooperation. This follows the administration's two-track approach in resolving historical issues separately while pursuing a future-oriented relationship.
And the president said he hopes Japan can play a leading role in building peace and prosperity in the region.
Speaking on the upcoming Tokyo Olympics slated for next year, President Moon said it will continue an unprecedented series of Olympics being held in East Asia with Tokyo 2020 coming in between the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.
And the preisdent called it a "golden opportunity" to solidifying the "framework of friendship and cooperation" and to move onto the path toward common prosperity.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.