Kyodo News, March 24, 2005
TOKYO, March 24, Kyodo - Japan pledged Thursday to restore amicable relations with South Korea after President Roh Moo Hyun vowed Wednesday to make ''stern responses'' to the territorial and history disputes with Japan. ''We will make utmost efforts to build a trusting relationship as a neighbor, taking seriously the feelings of South Koreans over past history,'' Senior Vice Foreign Minister Ichiro Aisawa said in a press conference.
He said Japan would like to seriously consider it can do, ''including the possibility of referring the Takeshima issue to the International Court of Justice for verdict.'' Tensions between the two countries flared up after last week's establishment of an ordinance by the local assembly in Japan's Shimane Prefecture that designated Feb. 22 as ''Takeshima Day'' to press Japan's claim to disputed islets, known as Takeshima in Japan and Tokto in South Korea.
Roh vowed Wednesday in a message posted on the presidential office's website to make stern responses to Japan's ''efforts to justify the history of aggression and occupation and moves to obtain its object of hegemony,'' while reiterating Seoul's claim to the island.----------------