Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono has expressed hopes for improved relations with China during talks in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

Japan is making efforts to further a gradual thaw in relations dogged by history and a territorial dispute.

Concerns about North Korea's nuclear weapons program also featured prominently in the Sunday discussions. Japan has pushed for stricter measures against the North, which fired a ballistic missile over the Japanese island of Hokkaido in August.

Kono was also expected to discuss possible arrangements for a trilateral summit this spring in Tokyo between leaders from China, South Korea and Japan.

Following the talks, Kono is due to meet with senior foreign policy adviser Vice Premier Yang Jiechi, and visit top leaders, possibly including President Xi Jinping.