South Korean President Park says Abe's WWII speech left 'much to be desired'

South Korean President Park Geun Hye.
South Korean President Park Geun Hye.PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL - South Korean President Park Geun Hye said on Saturday that a speech by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressing deep remorse for his country's actions in World War II had fallen short of Seoul's expectations.

"It is true that the prime minister's statement made (on Friday) left much to be desired," Park said in a speech marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II that ended its 1910-45 colonisation of the Korean Peninsula.

While noting Abe’s vow that previous national apologies for Japan’s aggression would stand, Park said Tokyo must follow up with “sincere actions” that could earn the trust of neighbouring countries.

And she particularly stressed the need for the Japanese government to resolve, “at the earliest possible date", the issue of Asian women forced to work as sex slaves for the military in Japanese wartime brothels.

The so-called “comfort women” issue is an extremely emotive one in South Korea, where fewer than 50 of the thousands of women coerced into prostitution remain alive.

Abe had alluded to the subject in his speech when he said the women “whose honour and dignity were severely injured” behind the battlefields should never be forgotten.

South Korea insists Japan has yet to fully atone for the suffering the comfort women went through and should offer further reparations.