Thousands of Koreans gathered in central Seoul on Wednesday (August 15th) to celebrate the anniversary of their country's independence ... and to protest against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policy.
With our correspondent in Seoul , Frédéric Ojardias
Drums, punching balls with the image of the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and raincoats to protect themselves from the rain. In Seoul's main square, Ganghwamun, protesters came from all over Korea to shout their anger at a Japanese government accused of revisionism. " Despite all its crimes committed in the past, Japan refuses to offer a sincere apology. I am angry, very angry! Says Seo Won-cheol, a 52-year-old man.
Tokyo recently imposed economic sanctions against Seoul, after the Korean Supreme Court sentenced Japanese companies to pay compensation to Korean victims of forced labor during the war. These Japanese trade reprisals are sparking a huge wave of anger in Korea, and a big boycott movement.
" I participate in the boycott by refusing to travel to Japan and buy Japanese products. But I am also welcoming to the Japanese I meet in Korea, to show them that our movement is only Shinzo Abe, "says Yeong Soo-bin, 24.
Japanese colonial question
Just a few steps away, thousands of members of conservative organizations are demonstrating on the same square. On the contrary, they accuse the South Korean government of overemphasizing the Japanese colonial question. " I know we have to appease the trauma caused by history, but not in this way. We have to find another way, "says Park Jin-yong, 20. " South Korea and Japan are democracies, Japan is our ally and we must stand together against Communist China, " said Jung Il-om, a sexagenarian.
The evening ended with thousands of candles lit at night by anti-Shinzo Abe protesters.