FILE - Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao.
FILE - Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao.

China's vice president expressed hopes for better ties with Japan, as he met with a visiting delegation of Japanese governors in Beijing on Tuesday.

The meeting is the latest sign that leaders in both countries want to improve relations that have been strained by territorial and historical disputes.

The delegation, which was led by Kyoto Governor Keiji Yamada, is in the Chinese capital to attend the Sino-Japan Governor Forum.

The official Xinhua news agency said Vice President Li Yuanchao told the governors "the development of a long-term and stable China-Japan relationship is in line with the fundamental interests of people of the two countries."

Li also spoke of the "spirit of drawing lessons from history and facing up to the future."

China has complained that Japan's conservative government, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is trying to revive the country's pre-World War II militarism.

Beijing has taken particular offense to visits by Japanese officials, including Abe, to a controversial Shinto shrine that includes convicted war criminals among the war dead it honors.

China and Japan also are engaged in a worsening dispute over a group of uninhabited but strategic islands in the East China Sea.

The disputes have prevented Prime Minister Abe from holding a face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping since both leaders have taken office.

The two leaders are expected to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation next month in Beijing. Tokyo has repeatedly said it wants a formal meeting between the two, but Beijing has not agreed.