|Anti-Abe protesters surround the statue symbolizing "comfort women" in front of the Japanese embassy in downtown Seoul, Saturday. Yonhap|
Thousands of South Korean demonstrators staged a rally on Saturday for the third straight weekly demonstration to censure Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for expanding trade curbs against Seoul, demanding Abe apologize for Tokyo's wartime forced labor.
"Apologize!" shouted the protesters in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, waving banners reading "Censure the Abe regime" and "Apologize for wartime forced labor."
Japan, which tightened exports of key materials to South Korea on July 4 in apparent retaliation over compensation for wartime forced labor, decided to remove Korea from a list of trusted export destinations on Friday.
|Protesters hold placards reading "Censure the Abe regime' and 'Apologize for wartime." Yonhap|
|An estimated 3,000 took part in the rally, co-organized by 682 civic groups. Yonhap|
|Some protesters hold banners calling on the government to terminate the military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan in response to the Abe government's removal of South Korea from its list trusted trade partners. Yonhap|
South Korean President Moon Jae-in vowed to take strong measures against Japan, describing the Japanese decision as an "undeniable trade retaliation against our Supreme Court's rulings on Korean victims of forced labor."
Japan's moves have fueled anti-Japan public sentiment in Korea, with people boycotting Japanese products and staging a widespread campaign encouraging people not to travel to Japan.
At Saturday's vigil, protesters blasted the Abe government for pursuing "militarism" through such unilateral measures and vowed to continue the anti-Japan campaign across the nation unless Tokyo stops its actions.
The demonstrators representing about 680 civic groups also held candles in Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul.
They criticized "Japan, an assailant 100 years ago, for apparently making an economic invasion against Korea."
The organizers plan to hold rallies for at least for another two weeks until Aug. 15, Korea's national holiday to mark the country's liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945. (Yonhap)
|Rep. Shim Sang-jung of the Justice Party joins the rally. Yonhap|
|Students promote a boycott of Japanese products at a street rally in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province, Saturday. Yonhap|