China, Japan and South Korea said they have “completely restored” relations after meeting Sunday for the first trilateral summit of the East Asian powers in three years.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye over the weekend to discuss their contentious WWII wartime history, trade agreements and defusing the North Korea nuclear threat.
“All sides shared the view that trilateral cooperation has been completely restored in this meeting,” Park said.
The meetings, originally held annually, were put on hold in 2012, as relations with Japan, especially over the issue of comfort women, strained.
The meeting was the sixth trilateral summit between the three countries since it kicked off in 2008.
The leaders agreed that the summit would be “held on a regular basis in the three countries,” with Japan hosting the next one in 2016.
Effort to denuclearize North Korea
The countries came together to present a united front on North Korea.
The three powers said they would “resume meaningful Six Party Talks at an early date to make substantial progress in denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.”
Launched in 2003, the Six Party Talks are negotiations between China, the U.S., North and South Korea, Japan, and Russia aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear program.
However, the talks have stalled over the years with Pyongyang saying in September that they can use nuclear weapons “any time” against the U.S. and its other foes.
Abe also appealed to the other two leaders for help on the abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea. The Japanese government says that at least 17 have gone missing since the 1970s, abducted by North Korean operatives.
Korea and Japan continue meetings
Park and Abe continued their discussions on Monday discussing issues including WWII comfort women.
South Korea’s largest news agency Yonhap reported that the two vowed to accelerate talks to “resolve issues” over former sex slaves though did not outline a timeline.
Park called the issue the “biggest stumbling block” to Seoul-Tokyo relations, according to Yonhap.
South Korea, as well as China, says that Japan has failed to properly atone for WWII aggression that saw the sexual slavery of hundreds of thousands of women from their countries and other Asian nations.
While Abe has offered apologies, moves to gloss over and erase mentions of comfort women in Japanese history textbooks since he took power have kept the issue highly charged.
Read: Why Japanese PM Shinzo Abe comes up short on WWII history and contrition