TOKYO, March 1 (UPI) -- Japan's prime minister, deflecting criticisms by South Korea's president, pointed out Japan's efforts at peaceful relations over the past 60 years.
Junichiro Koizumi told reporters in his official residence Wednesday: "I am a person who insists on the importance of the amicable relationship between Japan and South Korea. I want (South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun) to look at Japan's path during the 60 years since the end of World War II," Yomiuri Shimbun reported.
Earlier Wednesday, Roh, in a speech in Seoul marking the 87th anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement, criticized Koizumi's visits to a Tokyo shrine that includes war criminals among the thousands of Japanese war dead it honors.
"It is natural for the Korean people to be concerned whether Japan would justify her history of invasion and colonization and take the path of hegemony again," Roh said.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe also rebutted the South Korean president's comments, saying, "I want (Roh) to look at Japan's efforts to establish a global peace, protecting human rights, freedom and democracy."