TOKYO, May 20 (Xinhua) -- The Japanese government said Monday it is seeking third-party arbitration in a dispute with South Korea over compensation for forced wartime labor during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Japan's Foreign Ministry is seeking the creation of a panel comprising members from a third country to address the issue and said it urges South Korea to agree to the request to advance the dispute that has soured diplomatic ties since October last year.

South Korea's top court has ordered Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. to pay compensation for the forced labor of the plaintiffs during Japan's 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

A similar judgment was issued by the top court in South Korea for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to compensate two groups of South Koreans over wartime forced labor.

Other Japanese companies including, but not limited to Nachi-Fujikoshi Corp. and Mitsubishi Materials Corp., have also been sued by South Korean plaintiffs claiming they or their family members were adversely affected by Japanese firms' forced wartime labor.

Japan is seeking arbitration on the issues based on a pact inked between Tokyo and Seoul in 1965.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry has claimed that Seoul has been reluctant to show a willingness to advance talks on the matter with Tokyo through diplomatic channels and, hence, is seeking outside arbitration on the issue.

Meanwhile, Japan's public broadcaster NHK said that some of the plaintiffs in South Korea said they have begun offloading stocks that have been seized from Japanese firms and have been seeking to liquidize assets from the firms involved.

One Japanese advocate supporting the South Korean plaintiffs said that the forced labor during the war by the Japanese companies in question had destroyed the lives of the laborers and as such the companies should admit their culpability and apologize.