TOKYO, Feb 11 (AFP): Japan and China Saturday entered the second and final day of high-level talks aimed at easing strained bilateral ties, with the end of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's controversial tenure in sight.
China's vice foreign minister Dai Bingguo and his Japanese counterpart Shotaro Yachi moved on to a hot springs resort north of Tokyo after holding a morning session of talks in the Japanese capital, officials said.
The specific agenda for Saturday's talks between the East Asian neighbours was not immediately made public.
But the two sides were believed to be discussing ways to improve their ties frayed by Koizumi's repeated visits to a Tokyo shrine which honours Japanese war dead, including World War II leaders condemned as war criminals.
It was the first bilateral meeting at the vice minister level in four months since the Japanese premier made his annual pilgrimage to Yasukuni Shrine in October, sparking off protests in China and South Korea.
The Japanese side was reportedly seeking a resumption of contacts between Koizumi and Chinese President Hu Jintao, as well as their foreign ministers.
But Beijing is strongly opposed to any top-level bilateral exchanges because Koizumi-who has promised to step down in September after more than five years in office-refuses to stop his shrine visits.
In their talks late Friday, Dai and Yachi "confirmed the importance of Japan-China relations" and also discussed cultural exchanges among youths from the two countries, the Japanese foreign ministry said in a brief statement.
The pair were believed to be discussing oil and gas in a disputed area of the East China Sea. Japan was also angered when China worked to scuttle its cherished bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council last year.
In a meeting with a Japanese ruling coalition leader Friday, Dai called Beijing's opposition to the shrine visits a "matter of principle" and said the situation should change.