The foreign ministers of Japan, South Korea and China are planning to meet in Seoul on March 21-22 for the first time in three years in the latest sign of easing tensions in East Asia.
The gathering of Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, his counterpart Wang Yi of China and Yun Byung-se of South Korea, will be the first trilateral high level meeting since April 2012 -- before Sino-Japanese ties nose-dived over a lingering territorial dispute.
The meeting is expected to pave the way for a three-way summit among Prime Minster Shinzo Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Park Geun Hye.
Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping broke the ice with a frosty handshake on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in November.
Japan and China have long been at odds over the sovereignty of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, which Japan administers and calls the Senkakus but which China claims as the Diaoyus.
Relations soured in 2012 when the Japanese government angered China by nationalising some of the islands.
Since then, Tokyo and Beijing have routinely butted heads over the issue, with official Chinese ships and aircraft regularly testing Japanese forces.
The November meeting between Abe and Xi came on the heels of the joint issuance of largely similar statements on the dispute that observers noted were sufficiently vague to allow both sides to claim victory to domestic audiences.
In the planned meeting, a range of issues including economy, energy, six-party talks to address North Korea's nuclear program, and counter-terror measures are expected to be discussed.© Japan Today/AFP