Foreign ministers from Japan, China and South Korea gathered for a two-day meeting in Tokyo where they will discuss various territorial disputes and ways to boost cooperation. The meeting comes after tension among the three countries raised doubt about the prospects for talks.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung Se joined for a dinner at a Tokyo hotel on Tuesday ahead of the start of formal talks on Wednesday.
There were several speculations about this meeting and it finally comes ahead of the Group of 20 summit in China early next month. The talks are the first since March of 2015.
"It is extremely important for the foreign ministers of the three countries that play major roles in the region to gather together and exchange opinions frankly," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told AFP.
The Sino-Japanese tensions over a territorial dispute spiked recently and hence this three-way meeting is expected to play an important role in the future relationship between the countries.
China and South Korea had conflicts over the planned deployment of a US anti-missile system in South Korea while the Tokyo-Seoul relationship is also prone to periodic tension due to the legacy of Japan's wartime aggression.
Japan and China are going through a rough phase in a long running-dispute over uninhabited islets, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea.
Since Aug 5, Japan has protested at least 32 times through diplomatic channels regarding 30 intrusions by Chinese vessels into its territorial waters.
The ties also got strained when Japan urged China to adhere to an international court's ruling that rejected Beijing's vast territorial claims. But China warned Tokyo not to interfere in the matter.
"We will deliver Japan's thinking directly and clearly. It is important for us to send our message firmly," a Foreign Ministry official said regarding the dispute with China.
Meanwhile, China has also complained about the planned deployment of the US Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea. Beijing argued the missile shield goes against its own national security interests and warned that it will increase the regional tension.