SEOUL – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s landmark statement to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II (WWII) would become a touchstone for future relations between South Korea and Japan, Seoul’s top diplomat said Wednesday.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said the Abe statement “will be a touchstone” for improvement of the bilateral relations in the current historic moment to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII and the 50th anniversary of the normalized diplomatic ties between Seoul and Tokyo.

Yun made the comments at an opening ceremony for Japan research center under the Korea National Diplomatic Academy.

The diplomat said the South Korean government repeated demand for the Abe statement to completely and clearly inherit the perception of history shown in previous statements issued by former prime ministers.

If Abe does so, relations between South Korea and Japan would be pushed forward with a strong force, Yun said, wishing that true rapprochement would take root in the Northeast Asian region.

South Korea has called for Abe to include four key words, including war of aggression, colonization, apology and remorse, in his upcoming statement, inheriting historical perceptions reflected in former prime ministers’ statements by Tomiichi Murayama in 1995 and by Junichiro Koizumi in 2005.

The Murayama and Koizumi statements apologized to its Asian neighbors that suffered from Japan’s colonization and wartime brutalities.

A South Korean man in his 80s set flame to himself in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul amid rising worries that Abe may not apologize for the colonization and the forced recruitment of Korean women for sexual slavery during WWII.