Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that South Korea is the most important country with which Japan shares strategic interests in the region and stressed that the two countries need to work towards building future-oriented relations.
Abe's remarks followed talks with South Korea's special envoy, lawmaker Moon Hee-sang, who is in Tokyo to deliver a letter from President Moon Jae-in.
President Moon says he looks forward to holding talks with Abe in the earliest date.
Abe and the special envoy also discussed a long-running dispute over Japans' wartime sexual enslavement of Korean women on which a controversial agreement was reached in December of 2015.
The envoy made clear that most of the South Korean public cannot accept the deal.
However, he did emphasize that Seoul and Tokyo key partners in countering North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.
Another special envoy of President Moon's arrived in Beijing on Thursday and held talks with China's foreign minister Wang Yi.
"We hope the new government of South Korea realizes the problems that both countries are facing and takes effective measures to remove such obstacles to put the development of bilateral relations back on track."
Seoul-Beijing relations have not been on their best shape since South Korea and the U.S. announced their decision to deploy the U.S. missile defense system THAAD to the Korean peninsula.
Beijing strongly opposes the deployment of THAAD, claiming the battery harms its security interests.
The special envoy is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week to schedule summit talks between the two countries and in hopes to restore bilateral relations back to normal.
Kim Hyun-bin, Arirang News.