South Korea's Yoon hopes plan to settle labor issue helps mend ties with Japan

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has expressed hope that his government's plan to settle the issue of wartime labor will give momentum to his efforts to improve ties with Japan.

South Korea on Monday unveiled a plan to have a government-backed fund supported by donations from domestic companies compensate people who say they were forced to work for Japanese firms during World War Two.

Yoon said at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the plan is the result of the government's seeking ways to serve the common interests and future development of the two countries, while respecting the victims' positions.

He added that future-oriented cooperation between the two countries will clearly help defend freedom, peace and prosperity not only on both sides but also around the world.

Meanwhile, people opposed to the plan rallied outside the parliament building in Seoul on Tuesday.

One of the plaintiffs seeking compensation from Japan vowed never to accept payment from the government-backed fund, even at the risk of death by starvation. Another said the plaintiffs must receive apologies from the Japanese side.

The leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, Lee Jae-myung, said the state has been brought to submission and the people feel humiliated. He demanded that the Yoon administration retract the plan.