Japan, China agree to work on dialogue amid territorial dispute

Japan and China agreed Friday to work on dialogue in a forward-looking manner, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said after meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua amid continuing tensions between the two countries over their competing territorial claims.

"We agreed on the need to think about dialogue in a forward-looking manner," Kishida told reporters, while declining to discuss their meeting in greater detail, including the possibility of a three-way summit meeting among Japan, China and South Korea that has yet to be held this year.

Cheng told reporters after the meeting that he and Kishida "confirmed making efforts to bring (the two countries) back on track for a mutually beneficial relationship based on common strategic interests."

No summit meeting has been held between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese leaders since Abe returned as Japan's prime minister one year ago. Japan and China agreed to forge a "strategic relationship of mutual benefit" when Abe was last prime minister in 2006.

After confirming the two countries' basic stances in seeking to calm the heightened tensions between them, Kishida said he met with Cheng in a "very friendly atmosphere" and that they had "meaningful exchanges of opinions."

Bilateral ties have particularly soured since the Japanese government bought three of the five main islands in the Senkaku group in the East China Sea from a Japanese landowner in September 2012. China claims the Japanese-administered islets, which it calls Diaoyu.