South Korea unveils plan to resolve historical issue with Japan

The South Korean government has unveiled a plan to settle a longstanding issue with Japan. Officials say South Korean companies will compensate people who say they were forced into labor during World War Two.

Foreign Minister Park Jin said, "We are willing to develop the relationship between South Korea and Japan to a higher level, to a more future-oriented one."

Park announced a government-affiliated foundation will pay damages in place of Japanese companies. It will be given to those who say they or their relatives were forced to work during the war.

In 2018, the country's Supreme Court ordered two Japanese companies to pay compensation. The two sides had been holding talks to try to settle the issue since South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol took office last year.

The private sector is expected to raise the funds, including donations from South Korean businesses. But some are pushing for an apology or compensation from the Japanese companies. The reaction from plaintiffs and supporters is mixed.

Japan's Prime Minister is welcoming the plan. Kishida Fumio said, "We highly value the South Korean government's move as a way to restore healthy relations between Tokyo and Seoul."

Sources say Kishida is exploring the possibility of hosting President Yoon in Japan next week. The leaders are expected to reaffirm close ties with the US as North Korea ratchets up its nuclear rhetoric.