South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida may watch their countries' national baseball teams play a match together next month in Tokyo, a South Korean newspaper reported Thursday, as they seek to improve bilateral relations.
The South Korean government is expected to announce this month its proposal to settle the long-standing issue of compensating lawsuit plaintiffs over alleged forced labor during Japan's colonial rule of the country, JoongAng Ilbo reported by citing diplomatic sources.
Seoul is also hoping that Yoon and Kishida watching the March 10 World Baseball Classic game together at Tokyo Dome stadium could act as a gesture toward reviving positive bilateral exchanges between the leaders that became stalled over wartime issues, according to the daily.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry, however, said in a statement later in the day, "The report on watching a baseball game together is incorrect, and the timing for the announcement of a resolution (on wartime forced labor) has not been decided for now."
A Japanese government source said the idea would be feasible if the wartime labor issue were solved.
The South Korean government has recently suggested having a Seoul-based foundation pay compensation to victims instead of two Japanese corporate defendants. But the plan has come under harsh criticism from the plaintiffs' supporters, who say it lacks an apology from Japan and direct involvement of the firms.
South Korea, Japan make little progress in talks on wartime labor issue
Japan to uphold apology if South Korea settles wartime labor issue
Japan, South Korea vow to maintain communication on wartime labor issue