Lawmakers renew criticism on gov't over military pact with Japan
In a rare display of unity, lawmakers of the rival parties lashed out at the government on Wednesday for its botched attempt to seal a controversial military pact with Japan.
The South Korean Cabinet has approved the pact behind closed doors, drawing mounting public criticism for cooperating with the former colonial ruler. The public anger eventually forced the government to delay the signing of the deal with Japan at the last minute.
Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan have offered an apology for not informing the National Assembly of the agreement, though the intelligence-sharing deal does not require approval from the parliament.
On Wednesday, Lee Woo-hyun, a lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, said in a parliamentary session that the proposed deal was enough to cause public uproar amid Japan's recent move to possibly end a decades-old ban on collective self-defense.
Many Koreans still harbor deep resentment toward Japan because of its brutal colonial rule between 1910 and 1945.
Meanwhile, Kim Dong-cheol of the main opposition Democratic United Party renewed his party's demand that the president offer an apology and prime minister step down over the controversial issue.
The comments came a day after the DUP submitted a motion calling for the dismissal of the prime minister over the government's mishandling of the military agreement with Japan.
The motion will be discarded unless it is put to a vote within 72 hours, according to laws.
Approval votes of at least 151 out of 300 lawmakers are needed to endorse the motion.
The ruling Saenuri Party has 149 seats, followed by the DUP with 127, the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party with 13, another minor party and independent lawmakers with 11. (Yonhap)