South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon will visit Japan next week to personally deliver his government's opposition to the Japanese prime minister's last week visit to a controversial war shrine critics say glorifies militarism, officials said Monday.
Ban will visit Japan on Oct. 27-29 and meet with Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and other officials, reversing comments he made last week after the shrine visit suggesting that he would delay his trip, a ministry announcement said.
Trouble flared between Japan and South Korea last week when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japanese war dead, including executed war criminals. Japan ruled the Korean peninsula as a colony from 1910-1945.
Ban was reportedly planning the trip when Koizumi visited Yasukuni Shrine. Afterward, Ban said it would be inappropriate to push for a visit to Japan. The visit also threw into uncertainty the plans for a summit later this year between Koizumi and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.
A statement issued by the South Korean Foreign Ministry said Ban will deliver Seoul's position on Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni and stress that bilateral relations can develop in "a future-oriented manner only through a correct understanding of history."
Koizumi told reporters he thought Japanese-South Korean relations were not severely damaged by his worshipping at Yasukuni.
"It's good that they're keeping cool," Koizumi said as he praised Seoul's decision to send Ban as planned. "Friendship between Japan and South Korea is unchanged. Yasukuni is not the only issue between Japan and South Korea."
The announcement of Ban's trip followed reports that Japan and North Korea were considering bilateral talks in Beijing in early November.
Japan and North Korea are at odds over the North's nuclear weapons program, its kidnapping of Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, and other issues, reports the AP.
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