S.Korea's plan to settle wartime labor issue welcomed by Japan's government

Japan's Prime Minister Kishida Fumio says his government regards South Korea's plan to settle the wartime labor issue as a positive step to restore healthy bilateral relations.

Kishida made the remark during the Upper House Budget Committee session on Monday.

He said South Korea is an important neighbor with which Japan should cooperate in dealing with various challenges in the international community.

He added that it is necessary to bolster Japan-South Korea strategic cooperation as well as the trilateral partnership of Japan, the United States and South Korea in view of the current strategic environment.

Kishida said he hopes to maintain close communication with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.

Two Japanese companies ordered by South Korea's Supreme Court to pay compensation to South Korean plaintiffs have declined to comment on the settlement plan. The plaintiffs say they or their family members were forced to work for the firms during World War Two.

Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said their position is that the issue was already resolved by a Japan-South Korea agreement of 1965, when the two countries normalized ties.