In their first discussion in over a year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke for 11 minutes on 4 November, on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit.
A South Korean presidential cabinet spokesman said the two leaders agreed on the importance of bilateral relations and reaffirmed the principle of problem solving through dialogue.
Moon proposed holding high-level government discussions if the need arises, while Abe said, "We will make every effort to find a way to solve problems in every way possible."
The spokesman said the conversation, held shortly before the start of a meeting with leaders of ASEAN member countries and Japan, China and South Korea, was "extremely cordial and kept in a sincere atmosphere."
Japan's Foreign Ministry also revealed in November 4 that the two leaders had met. One official said Abe conveyed Japan's fundamental position on the various bilateral issues facing both nations.
Abe and Moon also smiled and shook hands at a dinner held here on November 3.
Bilateral ties have deteriorated since the fall of 2018, when the South Korean Supreme Court issued rulings ordering Japanese companies to pay compensation to former Korean war workers. No meeting between Abe and Moon has been held since September 2018, and the South Korean authorities had sought this meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit.
The summit may be the last opportunity for the two leaders to meet before November 23, when the General Agreement on Security of Military Information between Japan and South Korea ends.
Abe and Moon had originally planned to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, scheduled for Chile in November, but this conference was canceled by the Chilean authorities because of the general unrest in the South American country.