Japan and China are arranging high-level talks to improve their relations hurt by a recent island spat.

Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said Friday that a Chinese foreign ministry director visited Tokyo on Thursday with his Japanese counterpart seeking ways to calm tension.

It was the first visit by a high-ranking Chinese diplomat since Japan nationalized part of the uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. The nationalization sparked violent protests in China.

The two sides agreed to hold vice-ministerial talks as a next round, Gemba said, without giving a timeline.

Tokyo government spokesman Osamu Fujimura said the upcoming meeting marks a beginning of effort toward improved relations through various efforts of communication.