Japan and South Korea agreed in their summit Thursday to resume reciprocal visits by their leaders, which had been suspended for 12 years, and bilateral security talks, to help get relations back on track by seeking to resolve a major row over a wartime labor dispute.

During the talks in Tokyo, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Yoon Suk Yeol, the first South Korean president to visit Japan in four years, confirmed they will maintain "close communication" and boost political, economic and cultural exchanges.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (L, front) and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R, front) hold talks at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on March 16, 2023. (Kyodo)

Yoon's two-day visit to Japan came after South Korea announced a proposal to settle the wartime labor issue last week. Kishida called the decision a "big step" toward a thaw in Tokyo-Seoul relations, which some pundits say deteriorated at one point to the lowest level since the end of World War II.

At a joint press conference with Yoon after the talks, Kishida said bolstering bilateral relations is an "urgent matter," adding he will consider visiting South Korea "at an appropriate time."

Yoon also said South Korea's announcement of the solution "laid the foundation for the two nations to discuss future-oriented development from now on."

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R) and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol shake hands during a joint press conference following their talks at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on March 16, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

In the face of North Korea's escalating missile and nuclear threat and China's increasing military assertiveness, Kishida said Japan will soon restart security talks with South Korea involving bilateral discussions between foreign and defense ministry officials. Such talks were last held in 2018.

Yoon said South Korea has "completely normalized" the General Security of Military Information Agreement with Japan, an intelligence-sharing pact called GSOMIA, which his predecessor Moon Jae In had previously threatened to scrap.

Earlier Thursday, North Korea fired what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions imposing economic sanctions on the nation.

The ballistic missile is believed to have fallen outside Japan's exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan. Before departing for Tokyo, Yoon held a National Security Council meeting, during which he said North Korea would have to pay the price for its reckless provocations.

Kishida and Yoon also agreed to set up an economic security dialogue that will allow both countries to discuss ways to strengthen semiconductor supply chains to help meet the challenge of a global chip shortage.

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South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (R), with his wife Kim Keon Hee, arrives at Haneda airport in Tokyo on March 16, 2023, for talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Earlier in the day, the Japanese government said it will lift export controls on materials used in semiconductor and display panel manufacturing, imposed on South Korea in 2019.

In return for the decision, South Korea pledged to retract its complaint with the World Trade Organization over Japan's export controls in a sign of improving bilateral ties.

After the summit, Kishida, Yoon and their wives went to a Japanese beef hot pot restaurant in Tokyo's upscale Ginza district. Later, they went to another restaurant, famous for its omelet over rice dish, one of the president's favorites.

Relations between Tokyo and Seoul plunged to the lowest point in decades under Moon after South Korea's top court in 2018 ordered the two Japanese companies -- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Nippon Steel Corp. -- to compensate the plaintiffs.

Under the latest proposal, a South Korean government-backed foundation will pay compensation to plaintiffs who won lawsuits over their alleged forced labor during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula instead of the firms that were sued.

Technically, the right of the foundation to demand compensation from the Japanese companies has not been abandoned. Kishida and Yoon said they do not expect the foundation to request the firms to pay the compensation that it pays.

The last time that a South Korean president visited Japan was in June 2019 for the Group of 20 summit in Osaka. At that time, then President Moon did not hold bilateral talks with then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

But Yoon, who took office in May 2022, has been trying to improve ties with Japan while deepening military cooperation with the United States as North Korean missile launches continue jeopardizing regional security.

Kishida, who became prime minister in October 2021, has said the proposal by South Korea will help restore "healthy" relations between Tokyo and Seoul.

The South Korean public, however, is divided, with a recent opinion poll showing that nearly 60 percent of respondents are not in favor of the proposal as it does not include an apology or compensation from Japan.

With some opposition party members saying the Yoon administration's proposal is "humiliating," three surviving South Korean plaintiffs have rejected the government's compensation plan.

Reciprocal visits by Japanese and South Korean leaders, called "shuttle diplomacy," have been halted since December 2011, when then President Lee Myung Bak came to Kyoto for talks with then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

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The following is a list of recent events related to ties between Japan and South Korea.

Oct. 30, 2018 -- South Korea's Supreme Court orders steelmaker Nippon Steel Corp. to compensate Korean plaintiffs for forced labor during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. The court issues a similar ruling to machinery manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. on Nov. 29.

Nov. 21 -- South Korea announces dissolution of a foundation created under a 2015 bilateral agreement that distributed Japanese money to Korean women forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II as well as their relatives.

Dec. 21 -- Japan says a South Korean destroyer locked its fire-control radar on a Japanese defense force patrol plane over the Sea of Japan. South Korea denies the accusation.

June 27, 2019 -- Then South Korean President Moon Jae In visits Japan to participate in the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, but holds no bilateral talks with then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

July 4 -- Japan tightens the control of exports to South Korea of three materials used for the production of semiconductors and display screens for smartphones.

Aug. 2 -- Japan decides to revoke South Korea's preferential status as a trade partner for the purchase of goods that can be diverted for military use.

Aug. 22 -- South Korea says it has decided to scrap the General Security of Military Information Agreement, an intelligence-sharing pact called GSOMIA, with Japan. The decision is retracted later.

Sept. 27, 2021 -- A South Korean district court orders sale of local assets seized from Mitsubishi Heavy after the company refused to pay damages as ordered. A similar decision on Nippon Steel assets comes on Dec. 30.

Oct. 4 -- Fumio Kishida becomes Japanese prime minister, replacing Yoshihide Suga, Abe's successor.

May 10, 2022 -- Yoon Suk Yeol becomes South Korean president, replacing Moon Jae In.

Nov. 13 -- Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Yoon meet in Cambodia, the first official summit between the two countries since December 2019, agreeing to work for an "early settlement" of the wartime labor issue.

Jan. 12, 2023 -- South Korea, during a public hearing, unveils a plan centered on a government-backed foundation paying equivalent money to plaintiffs as the most likely solution.

March 6 -- South Korea announces it will implement the solution to the wartime labor dispute.

March 16 -- Yoon visits Japan for talks with Kishida.