Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi yesterday began a visit to Japan described as a major step forward in improving frosty relations, as Tokyo tries to stay involved in a flurry of worldwide diplomacy over North Korea.
Noting that this year marks 40 years since the signing of a bilateral peace and friendship treaty, Kono said he and Wang agreed to work for the improvement of bilateral relations across the board.
After rare talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Taro Kono said the ministers had "forward-looking" and "fulfilling" discussions about rebuilding ties between the Asian powers.
While ties between Tokyo and Beijing have a troubled history, relations seem to have strengthened following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's diplomatic visit in January.
"We confirmed Japan's plan to improve relations with China", Wang, who also holds the position of state councilor, told reporters after the meeting.
The world's second and third largest economies have a fraught relationship, complicated by longstanding disputes over maritime claims and Japan's wartime legacy.
Kono said he also asked for China's cooperation in resolving the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s. China demonstrated its significant influence over its reclusive ally when Xi hosted the North's leader Kim Jong-un and his wife in Beijing last month.
The talks came ahead of a summit between the two Koreas this month and a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jon Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Wang said China and Japan should maintain momentum in the development of bilateral relations through mutual efforts such as high-level contacts.
"To establish a complete, irreversible and verifiable denuclearisation of North Korea we agreed to continue to fully implement all relevant United Nations resolutions and to work closely together", Kono said.
Wang spent eight years in Japan as a diplomat with three of those years as China's ambassador.
Abe, who is due to meet Trump in Florida on Tuesday to discuss North Korea, will meet Wang on Monday. Wang, who will be in Tokyo until Tuesday, will also take part in the fourth China-Japan High-level Economic Dialogue.