Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in the Chinese capital Sunday afternoon, for his first foreign trip as leader and his first summit talks with Chinese leaders.
Soon after the arrival, Premier Wen Jiabao and Abe held their first talks following a welcoming ceremony in Abe's honor.
Later Sunday, Abe will also meet President Hu Jintao and top legislator Wu Bangguo, respectively, before flying to Seoul early Monday for talks with President Roh Moo-hyun of the Republic of Korea (ROK).
Wen invited Abe to visit China on the premise that "China and Japan reached a consensus on overcoming the political obstacle affecting bilateral relationship and promoting friendly and cooperative relationship," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao.
Abe, who took office September 26, is the first Japanese postwar prime minister who chose China as the destination of his first official overseas trip. He is also the first Japanese leader visiting China in five years.
Prior to his visit to China and the ROK, Abe told a session of the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Thursday that frank exchanges of views, goals and ideals are the first step in building the "relations of trust" among the Asian neighbors. He once pledged to improve relations with Japan's Asian neighbors.
The Sino-Japanese relations soured over former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 Japanese class-A war criminals in World War II are honored among the country's war dead.
The nuclear test of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the resumption of the six-party talks will be on agenda of the talks, according to the Japanese embassy in Beijing.
Xu Dunxin, who served as Chinese Ambassador to Japan between 1993 and 1998, was "prudently optimistic" about the prospect of China-Japan relations. "Abe's visit can not resolve all the problems in bilateral ties as the problems are complicated and protracted," he said.
But Abe's visit will open a channel for the leadership of the two countries to exchange and communicate, and lay a groundwork for further discussion, Xu said.
"The visit itself is a positive result," he added.