BEIJING--South Korean President Park Geun-hye asked China to build a memorial of Korean activist An Jung-geun, who assassinated Japan’s first prime minister on Oct. 26, 1909.
Park’s request for the An memorial in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, was made over lunch with Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 28.
An killed Ito Hirobumi at Harbin station. He is considered a national hero in South Korea because he symbolizes the resistance to Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
“I hope you will install such a memorial at Harbin station because he is a historical figure respected by the peoples of South Korea and China,” Park told Xi, according to a source in the South Korean president’s office.
Park also asked Xi to make China’s historical records available for viewing.
Xi reportedly said he would instruct the relevant agencies to consider the matter.
Park’s proposal came after criticism erupted in South Korea over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assertion that there is no clear definition of military aggression. The Japanese leader made that remark in the Diet during discussion on statements of apology for Japan’s military past.
In a May meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, Park brought up the historical recognition issue and singled out Japan as a nation that had to face its past in the proper manner.
With the increase of anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea, Park may also be trying to distance herself from her father, the late former President Park Chung-hee, who was considered pro-Japanese.
(This article was written by Nozomu Hayashi and Akira Nakano.)
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