TOKYO, Sept. 24 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday he told his Republic of Korea (ROK) counterpart Moon Jae-in that the two countries needed to repair their damaged relations, calling ROK an important neighbor to counter the threat from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Speaking to reporters after his phone call with Moon, Suga said: "I told President Moon that we cannot leave our relations, which have been hurt by issues including war-time laborers, where they are now.”

Suga replaced Shinzo Abe as prime minister last week.