Asia

Japan 'disappointed' by South Korea summit remarks

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Media captionPresident Park: "Dialogue is important but we must stick to our principles."

A Japanese official has expressed disappointment after the South Korean president said there was no point holding a summit with Tokyo due to outstanding historical issues.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Japan had outlined its position on the issues and he hoped South Korea would accept that.

He said Japan would continue to seek to build co-operation with Seoul.

President Park Geun-hye said Japan must apologise for war-time "wrong-doings".

Speaking to the BBC ahead of a visit to Europe, she said talks with Tokyo would be pointless if Japan did not change its stance on issues she said had not been properly resolved.

Eight months into office, Ms Park has not yet held a formal meeting with her neighbour and fellow US ally.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated over the past year due to a territorial dispute over a group of islands.

The comments also come at a time when concern over regional security is high after North Korea's third nuclear test in February.

'Vicious cycle'

Japan was "extremely disappointed" over the concerns that were raised, Mr Kato told journalists.

"Japan has continuously explained to South Korea its point of view on problems of the past, including its view of history and of the comfort woman issue," he said. "We would like them to accept this."

"South Korea is an important neighbour that shares with us basic values and interests, so Japan will continue efforts to build co-operation."

Citing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he said a summit should be held "exactly because there are problems".

Japan's actions during its 1910-1945 colonial rule, including its use of military sex slaves, or "comfort women", are a source of anger and resentment in South Korea.

Japan has made several apologies to Seoul and made a large pay-out as part of a 1965 agreement that put relations back on track.

In a key pronouncement in 1995, Japan said it "caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations".

But Ms Park said the issues of history and comfort women had not been "resolved or addressed".

"If Japan continues to stick to the same historical perceptions and repeat its past comments, then what purpose would a summit serve? Perhaps it would be better not to have one," she said.

"If they continue to say there is no need for an apology, and no need to acknowledge their past wrongdoings, then what good would it do?"

The US has called on Japan to mend such disagreements with South Korea to enable better regional co-operation, amid China's growing influence and concern over North Korea's nuclear capabilities.

Japan and South Korea are both part of the long-stalled six-nation talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

But the two nations remain at odds over the ownership of a group of islands, called Takeshima by Tokyo and Dokdo by Seoul.

The row is a long-standing one but flared again in 2012 - throwing a renewed spotlight on lingering historical tensions.

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