SEOUL, March 6 (Reuters) - South Korea is expected announce plans on Monday for resolving a dispute over compensating people forced to work under Japan's 1910-1945 occupation of Korea, officials and activists in Seoul said, although victims groups have expressed doubts.
The disagreements over labour and women forced into Japanese military brothels have bedevilled ties between the two pivotal U.S. allies for years, but South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has made a push to repair the relationship.
Seoul unveiled a plan in January to compensate former forced labourers through a South Korean public foundation. The proposal sparked backlash from victims and their families because it did not include contributions from Japanese companies, including those ordered by South Korean courts to pay reparations.
"It's a complete victory by Japan, which has said it cannot pay a single yen on the forced labour issue," Lim Jae-sung, a lawyer for several victims, said in a Facebook post on Sunday, citing initial media reports of a possible deal.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing unnamed government sources, said that as part of the deal Seoul and Tokyo had tentatively agreed to create a "future youth fund" to sponsor scholarships with funds from companies in both countries.
Relations plunged to their lowest point in decades after South Korea's Supreme Court in 2018 ordered Japanese firms to pay reparations to former forced labourers. Fifteen South Koreans have won such cases, but none has been compensated.
The row spilled over into a trade dispute. Japan has maintained the compensation issue was settled under earlier treaties.
When asked about the expected announcement from Seoul, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told parliament that talks were ongoing and that it was not appropriate to discuss specifics.
A Japanese government source close to Kishida told reporters that the United States has been pressing both countries to reconcile, but that a main factor that triggered Yoon's push for reconciliation is the geopolitical threat from North Korea.