Beijing: Foreign ministers from Japan and China called for improved relations between the wary Asian rivals on Monday at the start of discussions expected to focus on regional security.
Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto said when meeting China`s Yang Jiechi that stability is important to both nations.
Ties between Japan and China have been strained for years over a contested gas field in the East China Sea, China`s claims to Japanese controlled islands and lingering animosity over Japan`s often brutal World War II era occupation of China.
They now face a new strain: Last month Japan and the United States agreed to coax China to act more responsibly to address regional tensions. Over the past year, China has been at odds with South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines as well as Japan over contested claims and navigation rights.
Matsumoto and Yang were expected to discuss regional security issues and the recently renewed Japan-US strategic goals that touch on China`s military buildup, Japan`s Kyodo News agency reported, citing Japanese officials.
As part of the security goals announced after Japan-US security talks last month, Tokyo and Washington agreed to encourage Beijing to play a constructive role in regional stability. The allies also called on China to be more open and transparent over the modernisation of its military.
On Monday, Matsumoto also was expected to press China to further ease restrictions on Japanese food imports imposed after radiation leaks from Japan`s tsunami-crippled nuclear plant tainted some food products, Kyodo said. Matsumoto is the first Japanese cabinet minister to visit China since the March earthquake-tsunami that set off the nuclear crisis.
He is also scheduled to meet Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, the country`s likely next president.