The Republic of Korea (ROK) said here Friday that a country with the dark side of its history must face up to its past wrongdoings, and this is conducive to "solid peace and stability to be established between nations."
The statement came as Kim Sung-Hwan, ROK's minister of foreign affairs and trade, was speaking at the General Debate of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly, which entered its fourth day here Friday.
"It requires a sound historical consciousness and heartfelt soul-searching on any past wrongdoings in order for solid peace and stability to be established between nations," Kim said.
"A country's true valor is proven when it confronts the dark side of its history and endeavors to rectify past wrongdoings," he said.
"It is the firm conviction of the Korean government that the respect for the territorial integrity, and sovereignty as enshrined in the United Nations Charter should be the guiding principle for stable international relations," he said.
"No country should abuse international legal procedures and the notion of the rule of law in order to infringe upon the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries, or to distort the historical justice," he said.
Although the ROK foreign minister did not mention any specific name of the country in his UN speech, it is evident that he was speaking to the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who at the UN on Wednesday bragged about the rule of law in settling disputes.
Noda, in his speech at the General Debate, sought to invoke international law to justify his country's unilateral action on disputed islands of Japan's neighboring countries.
The ROK foreign minister said here Thursday that Japan's wartime past will overshadow relations between the two countries until Japan educates its people about crimes committed during colonial rule.
In an interview with The Associated Press on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Kim said: "We are victims of Japanese colonial rule."
Japan occupied the Korean peninsula for 35 years until the defeat of fascist forces in World War II and also occupied much of China. Japan issued a formal apology in 1993 over its use of Korean women as sex slaves by its soldiers during the war, but has failed to convince South Korea it is truly contrite.
Kim accused Japanese politicians of denying war crimes and said Japan's failure to educate its people properly about the past was the root cause of its various territorial disputes over islands in the region -- including with Russia and China.