Japan, S.Korea committees urge leaders to resolve wartime labor issue

Members of committees on cooperation between Japan and South Korea say it is essential that their countries' leaders make a firm political decision to resolve pending bilateral matters, such as the issue of wartime labor.

More than 60 members of the two committees made up of politicians and business leaders from the two countries held a joint meeting in Seoul on Tuesday.

Among them was former Japanese Foreign Minister Nakasone Hirofumi of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. He serves as the acting chairman of the Japanese side.

In the meeting, the participants read out messages from Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol. They then held separate discussions on various subjects.

In the political field, former South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said it would help to resolve the issues if the two governments exercised patience by giving consideration to the other side's point of view and showed leadership.

Yun was foreign minister when Japan and South Korea confirmed in 2015 that the issue of people referred to as wartime comfort women was resolved finally and irreversibly.

Japan's former Vice Foreign Minister Sasae Kenichiro praised Seoul for proposing last week a new plan with the aim of resolving the wartime labor issue.

The plan calls for a public foundation to offer payments to the plaintiffs in wartime labor lawsuits in place of Japanese companies that have been ordered to pay damages by South Korea's Supreme Court.

Sasae said no problem is insurmountable if the leaders are truly determined, and that the question now is whether they can make a political decision.

The Japanese government maintains that any right to claims was settled completely and finally in 1965, when Japan and South Korea normalized ties.