Japan, China and South Korea ended preparatory talks in Tokyo on Thursday about a possible free trade agreement, despite tensions about territorial disputes.
Working-level officials from the three countries met for two days to prepare for the first round of negotiations in South Korea on an FTA, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The first round is expected to be held between late March and early April, Japanese media reported.
The three countries agreed at a meeting of their trade and economy ministers in Cambodia last November to enter into free trade talks.
The discussions are expected to hit opposition from Japanese farmers since a trade pact could allow cheaper agricultural products like Chinese rice into Japan.
China and Japan are arguing about sovereignty over an archipelago in the East China Sea, while Japan and South Korea have a longstanding dispute over ownership of islands in waters between the two countries.