S. Korean lawmaker won’t apologise to Japan

SEOUL • The speaker of South Korea’s Parliament said he had no intention to apologise for his comments about Japan’s emperor, suggesting the issue could continue to stoke tensions between the neighbours.

National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang (picture) said there was no reason to show contrition for calling on Emperor Akihito to personally apologise to women forced to work in colonial-era Japanese military brothels, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

Moon was responding to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who called the comments “extremely inappropriate” as his government demanded an apology and retraction.

“I don’t know why this is becoming such a big issue,” Moon told reporters during a visit to Washington on Tuesday, according to Yonhap.

He said he was only seeking an apology for the former sex slaves — euphemistically called “comfort women” — and that he found Abe’s response “incomprehensible”.

“I really cannot understand why they’re doing this,” Moon said, adding that he’s “been saying the same thing for 10 years”. Moon’s office couldn’t immediately confirm the remarks when asked for comment.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry declined to respond to the Yonhap report and said there was no change to the country’s request for a retraction. “Speaker Moon’s comments were extremely inappropriate and it is most regrettable that he has repeatedly made similar remarks,” it said. — Bloomberg