China and Japan agreed to hold a new round of China-Japan-ROK leaders' meetings as soon as possible, and foster the proper environment for the trilateral summit.
The agreement came as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on January 28 in Beijing.
"High-level exchanges can play a leading role in improving bilateral ties," according to a press release from the talks.
Maintain momentum for improving ties
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also met with Kono later on January 28. Currently, China-Japan ties had maintained sound momentum for improvement, he said.
"We have noticed recent positive comments of the Japanese side on relations with China," Li told Kono, who is on his first China visit as Japanese foreign minister.
"However, China-Japan relations are still confronted with uncertainties," Li added.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed Japan's willingness to promote the relationship with China, in a policy speech on January 29.
Li urged both sides to cherish the sound momentum for improvement of ties.
"China-Japan relations are not only of great significance to both countries, but also to the region and the world," Li said.
He asked the Japanese side to learn lessons from history and face up to the future, and to create a sound environment for expanding win-win cooperation, restarting relevant dialogue mechanisms and boosting regional cooperation.
The Japanese side hopes to hold a new round of China-Japan-ROK leaders' meetings as soon as possible, and welcomes Premier Li's official visit to Japan, Kono said.
The last China-Japan-ROK summit, the sixth one, was held in 2015 in Seoul.
China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea began taking turns to host their annual leaders' meetings in 2008. Yet, the trilateral leaders' meetings were suspended after the fifth one in May 2012, due to disputes over maritime sovereignty between China and Japan.
"The Japanese side hopes to work together with China to meet each other halfway, and jointly promote further improvement and advancement of bilateral ties," Kono said.
40th anniversary of China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship
Kono's visit came as the two countries celebrate the 40th anniversary of the signing of the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which is of special and great significance to bilateral ties.
"Bilateral ties have gone through an extraordinary journey over the past 40 years," Wang said, calling on both sides to "remain true to their original aspirations, learn from experiences and promote the continuous improvement of the relationship."
The two foreign ministers agreed to take the opportunity to strengthen exchanges at all levels and in various fields, including culture, local government, media and youth, and to step up mutually beneficial cooperation.
Kono said Japan hoped to take the 40th anniversary of the signing of bilateral treaty as well as China's reform and opening-up, to upgrade bilateral ties to a new stage, based on mutual benefit and the consensus of "being each others' cooperation partners rather than threats [to each other]."
During his meeting with Kono on January 28, Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi asked the two sides to eliminate barriers and expand positive factors to promote the improvement of ties.
Kono said the government was ready to cement political trust and concrete cooperation with China, enhance high-level exchanges and contacts among various levels to promote the full improvement of ties.
Properly handle sensitive issues
During the meetings, the Chinese side urged the Japanese government to properly handle sensitive issues, including regarding history, and work with China to control differences.
Li called on Japan to properly handle sensitive issues, including those from history, properly handle differences, to push forward China-Japan ties back to the sound track of development.
Yang also asked both sides to respect each other's core interests and major concerns, and abide by the principles of the four China-Japan political documents.
According to the press release from the talks between Wang and Kono, the two countries have set forth principles and criteria for properly settling sensitive issues.
Wang urged Japan to honor its commitment, deal with the Taiwan issue based on the one-China principle, and respect China's sovereignty and security rights on issues related to Tibet and Xinjiang.
"China and Japan should work together to build the East China Sea into the sea of peace, cooperation and friendship," said the press release.
Since normalizing ties in 1972, China and Japan have signed four important political documents as well as a four-point principled agreement.
Wang asked both sides to build political trust, and urged Japan to treat China as a partner instead of rival, and view China's development as an opportunity rather than a threat.
Regarding the Taiwan issue, Japan will abide by the principles established in the 1972 Japan-China joint communique that normalized bilateral relations. Japan will also properly deal with issues related to Tibet and Xinjiang, which are part of China's internal affairs, according to Kono.
The two sides also welcomed the creation of an air and maritime contact mechanism between the two countries and pledged to sign the deal as soon as possible.
The two foreign ministers also exchanged opinions on regional and international issues including the Korean Peninsula issue. They vowed to jointly safeguard the free trade system, promote regional economic integration and build an open world economy.
Kono is on an official visit to China from January 27 to 28.