Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Tokyo for an official visit to Japan on Tuesday evening.
The meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the state guest house in Tokyo's Moto-Akasaka district was the first trilateral summit in about two-and-a-half years.
"China plans to push for a healthy, safe bilateral relationship with South Korea, and push for the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula together with South Korea", he said, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.
At the start of the 75-minute meeting, Abe said, "Japan, China and South Korea must cooperate with the global community and strongly ask North Korea to take specific action" toward denuclearization, namely abandoning its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.
The leaders also agreed to hold trilateral summits on regular basis and set up a secretariat.
Leaders of the three Asian powers, whose ties have been strained by territorial and historical disputes, also touched on economics in the face of USA trade pressure on China and Japan. He said that as major traders in the world, the three sides all support free trade and open markets.
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Amid a long-running territorial row over the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands, claimed as the Diaoyu Islands by China, the two Asian powers eventually agreed not to specify the geographical scope of the mechanism, including whether the uninhabited islets in the East China Sea fall within it.
Signing an FTA would provide momentum to negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) deal that would cover 16 nations, including those in Southeast Asia.
On expanding investment and industrial capacity cooperation, each of the three countries has its advantages, and prospects for their cooperation are broad, Li told the business summit.
The leaders of Japan, China and South Korea held a summit in Tokyo on Wednesday and agreed to cooperate over the denuclearisation of North Korea.
The Moon-Li meeting also came after the North Korean leader made a surprise visit to China's Dalian earlier this week for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
He called for more people-to-people exchanges and more cooperation in finance, scientific research and technological development, as well as in dealing with population ageing.