Tokyo: On Sunday Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan said that he and Yoon Suk-yeol, President of South Korea have reaffirmed that their countries will work towards a swift resolution of the wartime labor issue.
At stake is an unsettled dispute over compensation for the Korean wartime workers used by Japanese firms during the Second World War, which had worsened bilateral relations in recent years. South Korea’s Yoon, who took office in May, is keen to enhance relations with Tokyo. Japan has also focused on the importance of strategic cooperation.
“We reiterated again that we are hoping for the swift resolution of the wartime labor issue, on the understanding that the speed of the discussions between our diplomatic counterparts is accelerating,” Kishida told reporters on Sunday evening.
The South Korean presidential office also said that the two leaders agreed to proceed with discussions for prompt resolution of the pending issues. A South Korean court has ordered the seizure of assets of Japanese companies blamed for not compensating some of their colonial-era laborers.
Tokyo says the issue of compensation was settled under a 1965 treaty normalizing diplomatic ties and providing South Korea with monetary assistance and has warned of serious repercussions if the orders are enforced. Japan has asked South Korea to present a solution, and a Seoul official said it would devise a proposal that can win consent from both South Korean victims and Tokyo.
PM Kishida was speaking after a bilateral meeting with his South Korean counterpart on the sidelines of a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Earlier, Kishida and Yoon held a three-way meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss North Korea threats.