Japan, S.Korea mulling restart of mutual visits by leaders

The governments of Japan and South Korea are considering resuming mutual visits by their leaders after a hiatus of more than a decade.

Both governments announced on Thursday that South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol will visit Japan for two days from next Thursday to meet with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio. It will be the first trip to Japan by a South Korean president in about four years.

The announcements came after Seoul unveiled on Monday a plan to settle a wartime labor issue that has plagued bilateral ties for years.

Kishida told reporters on Thursday he is committed to improving ties with South Korea.

Some Japanese government officials are proposing that Yoon should be invited to the Group of Seven summit scheduled for May in Hiroshima.

The government is expected to consider the idea while closely watching if South Korea carries out the settlement plan.

In 2018, South Korea's Supreme Court ordered Japanese companies to pay compensation to plaintiffs who say they or their family members were forced to work for the firms during World War Two.

The settlement plan entails having a foundation affiliated with the South Korean government pay damages on behalf of the companies. It will be supported by donations from South Korean businesses.

Japan's government maintains the right to claim compensation was settled by a bilateral agreement in 1965.