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Japan's diplomat visits Beijing, arranges Abe's visit to China in Oct.

Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba (Mainichi)

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba said Wednesday that he has made arrangements with officials in Beijing for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to China, possibly in October, as relations between the two countries have been improving.

    "I cannot mention the specific timing at this juncture, but we are arranging in an active manner" Abe's visit to China, Akiba told reporters after he met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng in Beijing.

    Expectations are growing that Abe will visit China around Oct. 23, when the two nations celebrate the 40th anniversary of a bilateral peace and friendship treaty taking effect, and will hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

    It would be the first time since December 2011 for a Japanese prime minister to visit China, apart from trips to attend international conferences.

    Akiba is also believed to have talked with Wang and Le about whether to hold a summit meeting between Abe and Xi on the fringes of the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia's Far Eastern city of Vladivostok in September.

    In recent years, Sino-Japanese ties had been mired in a territorial row over the Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyu in China, which escalated after the Japanese government effectively put them under state control in September 2012.

    But bilateral relations have been improving, with both sides reflecting positively on the 40th anniversary of the signing of the friendship treaty between the two countries.

    Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday blocked a reporter from The Sankei Shimbun, a Japanese conservative daily that is critical of China, from participating in a media pool covering the start of the meeting between Wang and Akiba.

    Japanese media stationed in Beijing decided to cancel the pool coverage of the talks, expressing their dissatisfaction with the Chinese ministry's decision.

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