Abe's adviser visited China this week apparently to mend ties

An adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an unannounced visit to China earlier this week, Japan's top government spokesman said Thursday, in a move that may indicate the two countries are trying to address tense relations over a territorial dispute.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga acknowledged at a press conference the trip by Shotaro Yachi, but refused to comment in detail.

Yachi, a former top Foreign Ministry bureaucrat, apparently met with senior Chinese officials to discuss ways to ease tensions over a group islands in the East China Sea, controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.

Yachi's trip is particularly significant in view of his earlier remarks that Japan has no need to try hard to realize talks with China at times of strained relations.

Delivering a speech last month, Yachi went so far as to say Chinese leaders are "trying to vent their frustrations on other countries" as they are struggling with domestic difficulties, such as widening income gaps among citizens.