Japan's new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday urged South Korea to make more of an effort at mending bilateral ties soured by wartime issues.
Kishida's push made in parliament referred to court rulings in South Korea that have ordered the seizure of assets of Japanese companies as compensation for colonial-era labor performed by its nationals.
During an upper house plenary session, Kishida, who took office on Oct 4, also said Japan's relationship with South Korea, which has been at its lowest point in decades, should not be left as it is while indicating that no immediate breakthrough is in sight.
"I strongly urge the South Korean side to present an acceptable solution at an early date to bring Japan and South Korea back to healthy relations," the prime minister said a day before he is set to dissolve the lower house for a general election at the end of this month.
Bilateral relations sharply deteriorated after the South Korean Supreme Court rulings in 2018.
Japan takes the position that all claims connected to its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula are "completely and finally" settled by a 1965 bilateral accord that provided South Korea with financial assistance.
With the two countries remaining as far apart as ever, Kishida's predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, never held a summit during his one-year tenure with South Korea's President Moon Jae In.
Touching on the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, Kishida said Japan's cooperation with South Korea and their trilateral partnership with the United States are "absolutely necessary" for the region's stability.
Among other issues addressed in the Diet session was Kishida's stance on allowing married couples to have separate surnames.
Under current law, married couples must share the same name, with over 90 percent of wives changing their surnames. The system has long been criticized as outdated and sexist.
Kishida had previously indicated his willingness to change the law but has moved further away from allowing married couples to register under separate surnames.
Opposition parties have leveled criticism at Kishida, with Akira Koike, second-in-command of the Japanese Communist Party, telling him during the session, "You're too irresponsible."
Most of the parties, including the government's junior coalition partner Komeito, favor amending the law to change the surname system.© KYODO