For Immediate Release April 25, 2014http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/25/press-conference-president-obama-and-president-park-republic-korea
Press Conference with President Obama and President Park of the Republic of Korea
Seoul, Republic of Korea
Q I have a question for President Obama.
And next, I’d like to talk about the conflicts going on in Northeast Asia. Korea, Japan and China are the three countries in Northeast Asia engaged in close political cooperation relative to their historical territorial disputes. How do you foster a friendly atmosphere for cooperation? What can the United States do? And in regards to Prime Minister Abe’s statement at the press conference yesterday, he has made statements justifying the visit to Yasukuni Shrine by Japanese political leaders. I’d like to hear your views over the historical views held by Japanese politicians.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: （略）
Finally, with respect to the historical tensions between South Korea and Japan, I think that any of us who look back on the history of what happened to the comfort women here in South Korea, for example, have to recognize that this was a terrible, egregious violation of human rights. Those women were violated in ways that, even in the midst of war, was shocking. And they deserve to be heard; they deserve to be respected; and there should be an accurate and clear account of what happened.
I think Prime Minister Abe recognizes, and certainly the Japanese people recognize, that the past is something that has to be recognized honestly and fairly. But I also think that it is in the interest of both Japan and the Korean people to look forward as well as backwards and to find ways in which the heartache and the pain of the past can be resolved, because, as has been said before, the interests today of the Korean and Japanese people so clearly converge. They’re both democracies. You both have thriving free markets. Both are cornerstones of a booming economic region. Both are strong allies and friends of the United States. And so when you think about the young people of the Republic of Korea and Japan, my hope would be that we can honestly resolve some of these past tensions, but also keep our eye on the future and the possibilities of peace and prosperity for all people.
That’s one of the most important lessons I think from the horrors of war, is being able to look back and learn lessons that allow people to avoid war in the future.