Foreign Minister Qin Gang and his Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi discussed the Diaoyu Islands on Thursday, with both expressing concerns and Qin hoping Japan could stop "right-wing" provocations.
The islands have long been a sticking point in bilateral relations.
In their first conversation since Qin took office, he told Hayashi that Beijing hopes Japan can stop "right-wing forces" from provoking disputes over the islands, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
During the telephone conversation, Qin told Hayashi that China and Japan are close neighbours separated by a strip of water, and peaceful coexistence and friendly cooperation are the only correct choices for both sides.
Qin added the two nations should adhere to strategic independence and work together for Asia's development.
For his part, Hayashi said bilateral relations face "many challenges and concerns," adding that Japanese public opinion toward China is "extremely severe", Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Hayashi also expressed "serious concerns" about the East China Sea, including China's activities around the islands.
But both agreed on cooperating to build a constructive and stable relationship, and said they would continue close communication at all levels, including at the summit level, the Japanese statement said.
Hayashi told a news conference on Friday that Qin had invited him to visit China, adding that the timing of the visit needed to be arranged, Kyodo news agency said. (Reuters/Xinhua)