North Korea calls for Japanese apology and reparation for its colonial rule

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea pressed Japan on Friday to apologize for its colonial rule, faulting Tokyo for offering a recent apology only to South Korea for its annexation of the Korean peninsula a century ago.

North Koreans harbor deep resentment of Japan for using Koreans for forced labor and sex slaves during its 1910-45 occupation of the peninsula.

Japan "should make immediate apology and reparation for the hideous crimes committed against the Korean people," the North's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency.

It also urged Japan to "immediately roll back its hostile policy toward" North Korea.

The statement came a week after Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan apologized for the "enormous damage and suffering" caused by his country's occupation of Korea and expressed "deep remorse."

Kan's statement apologized specifically to South Korea, in contrast to earlier apologies by Japan for wartime actions made broadly to the country's Asian neighbors.

North Korea's statement said Japan should repent and apologize to "all victims for the past without any precondition and discrimination."

Japan's colonial rule over the Korean peninsula ended in 1945 when it surrendered to the United States at the end of World War II. The peninsula was later divided into separately governed regions, resulting in a communist North and capitalist South.

North Korea has no diplomatic relations with Japan and the two neighbors have a long history of discord mainly over Pyongyang's kidnapping of Japanese citizens in the late 1970s and early 1980s as part of its espionage.