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Chinese VP meets Japan governor delegation amid strain in ties over islands dispute

In this photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, right,  meets with President of Japan's National Governors' Association, Keiji Yamada, in Beijing, capital of China, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014. China's vice president met Tuesday with a delegation of governors from Japan amid strained bilateral ties, a rare high-level meeting that points to Japan's hopes of a summit between the two countries' leaders at a regional conference next month. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Liu Weibing) NO SALES

In this photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, right, meets with President of Japan's National Governors' Association, Keiji Yamada, in Beijing, capital of China, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014. China's vice president met Tuesday with a delegation of governors from Japan amid strained bilateral ties, a rare high-level meeting that points to Japan's hopes of a summit between the two countries' leaders at a regional conference next month. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Liu Weibing) NO SALES  (The Associated Press)

China's vice president has met with a delegation of Japanese regional governors in a rare high-level encounter amid strained ties between the two countries.

Li Yuanchao on Tuesday told the group, led by the president of Japan's National Governors' Association, Keiji Yamada, that China hopes for improved relations.

A brief account of the meeting from China's official Xinhua News Agency also said Li referred to "the spirit of drawing lessons from history," underscoring China's displeasure with statements from Japanese politicians seen as minimizing Japanese responsibility for its brutal World War II invasion and occupation of much of China.

Such meetings have grown extremely rare following a major deterioration in ties two years ago after Japan nationalized a group of uninhabited islands claimed by both countries.