China wants premier's Japan trip to return ties to normal

China hopes a visit by Premier Li Keqiang (LEE kuh-chee-AANG') to Japan next week will help put ties back to normal following years of tensions over territorial claims and other sensitive issues.

China's Foreign Ministry says Li will travel to Japan on Tuesday for a four-day visit, including a meeting with his Japanese counterpart and the South Korean president in Tokyo.

Assistant Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou (shoo-ANH'-yuu) says that in Japan, Li will hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to help map out the future relationship.

Despite close economic ties, many Chinese resent Japan over its invasion of their country last century. Relations nosedived in 2012 after Japan nationalized a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea claimed by China.

Relations have since gradually improved.