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WASHINGTON – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Saturday that he is hopeful about future relations with South Korea.

Kishida with President Yoon Seok-yeol It promised to “resolve pending issues very quickly.”

At a press conference, Kishida said, “I want to restore the health of bilateral relations and develop them further.”

he refused to speak directly Korea’s new proposalhe said he would refrain from talking about domestic developments.

Since winning the 2022 election by a narrow margin, Yoon has worked to improve relations with Japan and help Tokyo and South Korea work together on common concerns such as North Korea.

Memories of Japan’s brutal colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 have long clouded this relationship. According to South Korean statistics, Japan forced about 780,000 South Koreans into forced labor, not including women forced into sexual slavery.

Survivors have long sought direct compensation and apologies.

Under the South Korean government’s new proposal, a third party, presumably a South Korean company that profited from Japan’s reparations, would offer to pay.

Victim groups have long demanded direct payments and apologies from Japan, but Japan claims the issue was resolved under the 1965 treaty that restored relations.

As part of the treaty, Japan offered South Korea $800 million (S$1 billion) in subsidies and cheap loans as reparations.AFP Japan’s prime minister hopes for relationship as South Korea seeks to resolve wartime dispute

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