Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his British counterpart Boris Johnson agreed Wednesday to bolster bilateral cooperation, including promoting post-Brexit free trade.

In their first talks since Suga took office last week, Japan also welcomed Britain's interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade pact, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street for his weekly Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) appointment at the House of Commons in London, England, on September 16, 2020.(NurPhoto/Getty/Kyodo)  

During the 20-minute telephone conversation, Suga said Japan hopes Britain will reach a deal with the European Union on their future relationship by the end of the transition period in December, the ministry said.

Many Japanese companies operating in Europe are based in Britain, and without such a deal, their businesses could be disrupted.

Japan and Britain are aiming to implement their trade pact, which largely replicates the existing Japan-EU agreement, in January next year to ensure continuity in their trade and investment relationship.

Suga and Johnson also agreed to strengthen security ties and closely coordinate efforts at realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific region, the Japanese ministry said.

The concept promoting the rule of law, freedom of navigation and democracy in the Indo-Pacific was coined by Suga's predecessor Shinzo Abe in a veiled counter to China's rising clout in the region.

South Korean President Moon Jae In delivers a speech on Aug. 15, 2020, during a ceremony commemorating the end of Japanese colonial rule 75 years ago. (Kyodo)  

Suga plans to speak by phone with South Korean President Moon Jae In on Thursday morning for the first time, Japanese government sources said.

Relations between Japan and South Korea remain frosty amid a dispute over compensation for wartime labor and export controls. The last time the countries' leaders spoke was a meeting between Abe and Moon last December in Chengdu, China.

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