World

Chinese premier meets Japanese delegation amid halting efforts to restore ties, exchanges

  • Yohei Kono, left, head of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade, shakes hands with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 14, 2015. (Shigeru Nagahara/Pool Photo via AP))

    Yohei Kono, left, head of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade, shakes hands with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 14, 2015. (Shigeru Nagahara/Pool Photo via AP))  (The Associated Press)

  • Yohei Kono, left, head of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade, listens to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 14, 2015. (Shigeru Nagahara/Pool Photo via AP))

    Yohei Kono, left, head of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade, listens to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 14, 2015. (Shigeru Nagahara/Pool Photo via AP))  (The Associated Press)

  • Yohei Kono, center, head of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade, shakes hands with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, right, before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 14, 2015. (Shigeru Nagahara/Pool Photo via AP))

    Yohei Kono, center, head of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade, shakes hands with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, right, before a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 14, 2015. (Shigeru Nagahara/Pool Photo via AP))  (The Associated Press)

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has met with a Japanese delegation led by ex-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono amid halting efforts to reduce tensions between the countries.

Li told Kono on Tuesday that both sides want to overcome recent difficulties sparked by an island dispute and what Beijing sees as Japan's shirking of its responsibility for World War II.

A brief meeting in November between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping helped break the ice, but a full range of exchanges has yet to be restored.

In 1993, Kono released a now-famous statement conceding that the Japanese Imperial Army forced foreign women to work in military-run brothels during the war.

Before then, the government had denied the women were coerced and the statement has remained controversial in Japan.