Chinese President Xi Jinping has extended his condolences to Japan's Emperor Akihito over the country's recent deadly earthquakes in a brief respite from the usual rancor between Beijing and Tokyo.

Reports Tuesday of Xi's comments said he also expressed "sincere wishes" that the Japanese people might speedily overcome difficulties and rebuild their homes.

The brief statement issued late Monday made no mention of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is widely loathed in China over his conservative views on history and moves to strengthen Japan's defense.

High-level Chinese-Japanese ties have been largely frozen since Japan nationalized a string of uninhabited East China Sea islands claimed by China in 2012. The move infuriated many Chinese, who feel Japan has never properly atoned for its brutal World War II invasion.