Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday that stabilizing ties with South Korea is important amid soured relations with the Asian neighbor over wartime compensation and the sovereignty of islets.

"International agreements and promises must be fulfilled. I hope South Korea will take a positive approach," said Kishida in a group interview, apparently referring to the bilateral spat over wartime labor.

Ties between the two countries deteriorated sharply in late 2018 after a series of South Korean court rulings ordered Japanese companies to pay damages for forced labor during Japan’s colonial rule.