POSTED: 05:31 a.m. HST, Aug 13, 2010
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea urged Japan to apologize and provide compensation for its harsh colonial rule, days after Tokyo offered an apology to South Korea for annexing the Korean peninsula without mentioning the North.
North Koreans harbor deep resentment of Japan for using Koreans for forced labor and sex slaves during its 1910-45 occupation of the peninsula.
North Korea — which does not have diplomatic relations with Japan — held a meeting Thursday at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang in an apparent bid to press for compensation from Japan.
Pumping their fists into the air, North Koreans chanted slogans such as "Compensate" and "Withdraw," according to footage aired by television news agency APTN.
Hong Song Ok, chairman of the North's committee handling the issue of former sex slaves and victims of forced labor, also accused Japan of trying to cover up past crimes.
"The Japanese government coldly refuses and ignores the demands of our victims until now," Hong told the gathering.
On Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan apologized for the "enormous damage and suffering" caused by his country's occupation of Korea and expressed "deep remorse." His statement was approved by Japan's Cabinet.
The statement apologized specifically to South Korea, in contrast to earlier apologies by Japan for wartime actions made broadly to the country's Asian neighbors.
Japan's colonial rule over Korea ended in 1945 when it surrendered to the United States at the end of World War II.
The Korean peninsula was later divided into separately governed regions, resulting in a communist North and capitalist South.
Song Il Ho, North Korea's ambassador for normalization talks with Japan, expressed disappointment Friday over Kan's apology, calling it a "retreat" from a similar one made in 1995 to all Asian victims of Japan's past aggression.
"Looking at expressions and the depth of apology in Kan's statement, we totally don't understand what Japan apologizes for and whom it apologizes to," Japan's Kyodo News agency quoted Song as saying in an interview in Pyongyang. "The statement gave a sense of disappointment and resentment to all (North) Koreans."
Japan has a long history of discord with North Korea, which has admitted kidnapping Japanese citizens in the past and has conducted long-range rocket tests over the main Japanese island.