Japanese apology for colonial 'suffering'

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Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan apologised yesterday for Korea's suffering under colonisation, despite concern that the gesture could reignite calls for wartime compensation.

Kan is seeking to prevent ties with major trading partner South Korea from being dragged back into periodic disputes stemming from Japan's often-brutal 1910-1945 colonisation of the peninsula.

"It is easy for the side that inflicted the pain to forget, while those who suffered that pain cannot easily forget," Kan said, in a statement to mark the centenary of Japan's annexation of the Korean peninsula on 29 August. He went on: "I express a renewed feeling of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology for the tremendous damage and suffering caused by colonial rule."

Lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties worried that such an apology from Kan could lead to more compensation claims from wartime victims.