South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun on Wednesday expressed opposition to moves in Japan to amend its pacifist Constitution, saying Japan's hope to become a ''normal country'' need not entail legal changes to build up military power.
Japan should instead work to secure other countries' trust by adhering to globally accepted principles of conscientious behavior, Roh said in a speech, in which he also strongly criticized Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.
Roh's speech in Seoul marked the 87th anniversary of the March 1 Movement, a series of demonstrations for Korean national independence that began March 1, 1919 in Seoul and soon spread throughout the country. Japan ruled the Korean Peninsula as a colony from 1910-1945.
The South Korean president said little has changed in the way Japan views its controversial past and it continues to whitewash its history of military conquest.
He said that while Japan insists that it has apologized for the past, it should demonstrate its repentance through deeds, not just words.
Roh noted that Japanese leaders continue to visit the Yasukuni Shrine, where Class A war criminals are enshrined along with Japan's war dead, and Tokyo continues to lay claim to a South Korean-held pair of islets known as Dokdo in South Korea and Takeshima in Japan.