SEOUL--Public opinion in South Korea and Japan is sharply split over the prospects of North Korea dismantling its nuclear arsenal anytime soon.

While a majority of South Koreans are optimistic the issue can be resolved over the next decade, close to two-thirds of Japanese believe that will be difficult.

This was a key finding of a public opinion survey carried out jointly by two private-sector groups.

The views of about 1,000 respondents in each of the two nations were canvased, and the findings were announced June 18.

The annual poll by Genron NPO, a Japanese nonprofit think tank, and the East Asia Institute, a South Korean think tank, was carried out between mid-May and early June, after South Korean President Moon Jae-in's historic first meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in April.

Respondents were asked if they thought North Korea would ultimately scrap its nuclear warheads, a precondition set by the United States for forging diplomatic relations with the reclusive country.

In South Korea, those who felt the issue could be resolved came to 60.6 percent, with 3.8 percent optimistic that this would be achieved by the end of 2018. However, 13.8 percent felt two years was more likely, 21.6 percent cited five years and 21.4 percent said after a decade.

The overall percentage of optimistic answers was more than double the 28.7 percent from last year's survey.

In contrast, only 10.2 percent of Japanese respondents said the North Korean nuclear issue would be resolved, with 65.1 percent saying it would be difficult to achieve. In last year's survey, only 7.4 percent of Japanese respondents said the issue would be resolved, while 68.9 percent said it would be difficult.

Respondents in the two countries were also asked how they felt about the other nation.

The percentage of South Korean respondents who held a negative impression of Japan fell from the 56.1 percent of 2017 to 50.6 percent. The percentage of Japanese respondents with a negative image of South Korea also dropped slightly from 48.6 percent last year to 46.3 percent.