South Korean President Moon Jae-in has met with Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the New Komeitoa party, a partner in Japan’s ruling coalition, and the pair have agreed to try to improve ties between the countries in the run-up to next year's Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang and the Summer version of the event in 2020 in Tokyo.
According to officials at Blue House, the executive office of the President, Moon asked Yamaguchi "to make efforts to widen human exchanges through various opportunities including the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics".
"Let us work together to make the Pyeongchang Olympics as well as the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics as ones that open up peace on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia," Moon told Yamaguchi, who agreed.
"As we’ve seen figure skaters in both countries, Kim Yuna and Mao Asada, compete in good faith and rise to become global stars, I hope the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Games will become a chance for many promising athletes from both countries.
"I look forward to Japanese Olympians putting on a good show in Pyeongchang, as well as to the Japanese people coming to the host city, which will surely help to increase human-to-human exchanges between our two countries."
Yamaguchi also passed on a handwritten letter from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to Moon, asking him to visit Japan "as soon as possible".
Abe also called for a meeting between the state leaders of South Korea, Japan and China as soon as possible.
In response, Moon said that a trilateral summit would be held in January 2018 at the latest.
In recent years, the relationship between South Korea and Japan has greatly deteriorated due to many disputes, including the territorial claims on Liancourt Rocks - also known as Dokdo or Takeshima - Japanese Prime Ministers' visits to Yasukuni Shrine, and differing views on Imperial Japan's treatment of colonial Korea, as well as Japan's refusal to negotiate Korea's demands that it apologise or pay reparations for mistreatment of World War Two comfort women from Korea.
These tensions have complicated efforts to promote a common front against Chinese and North Korean threats in the region.
Moon has dismissed Japan’s idea of a trilateral military exercise also involving South Korea and the United States in the wake of increased tensions with North Korea as he believes it could cause a further increase in tensions.
Instead, he called for the international community to unite and put pressure on North Korea to change their stance.