Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping are arranging talks around Nov. 16 in San Francisco on the sidelines of a gathering of Asia-Pacific leaders, a source close to bilateral relations said Thursday.

Japan's top national security adviser Takeo Akiba visited Beijing the same day and held talks for three and a half hours with China's top diplomat Wang Yi, with preparations for the summit believed to be on the agenda. After the talks, Akiba told reporters that "nothing has been decided" about the leaders' meeting.

The two candidly exchanged views on issues of concern between their countries as well as on regional and international situations, and agreed to keep communicating with each other closely, the Japanese government said.

Wang expressed China's concern on issues such as Taiwan, contentions over history, and the discharge of what it calls "nuclear-contaminated" water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, while urging Japan to show its policy of improving bilateral relations "in concrete actions as soon as possible," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.

Combined photo shows Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Kyodo)

Bilateral ties remain strained over the release into the sea of treated radioactive water, which began in late August. China strongly opposes the discharges and has imposed a total ban on seafood imports from Japan.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a press conference Thursday that Beijing hopes Tokyo will "honor its statement about seeking constructive and stable relations with China" and "create the environment and atmosphere" needed for the two countries to engage in high-level exchanges.

The summit, if realized, will take place on the fringes of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum leaders' meeting in San Francisco from Nov. 15 to 17, and would be the first between the two countries since November last year in Bangkok, the source said.

Kishida's government has been aiming to resume high-level communications with China, with bilateral relations also frayed over Beijing's formal arrest of a Japanese businessman for alleged espionage earlier this year.

Repeated entries by Chinese coast guard vessels into waters near the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, meanwhile, have been a further irritant to ties between the two Asian powers. China claims the uninhabited islets, calling them Diaoyu.

Akiba, secretary general of the National Security Secretariat, last visited China in August 2022. It is believed he sought a science-based dialogue on the Fukushima water release in his meeting with Wang.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Xi also plan to hold bilateral talks, with the meeting set for next Wednesday in the West Coast city, a senior U.S. official said. Japan is a close security ally of the United States.

Related coverage:

Japan, Philippines mull starting talks on new security pact

Japan, China renew vow to promote ties on peace pact's 45th anniv.

Japan PM Kishida seeks dialogue with China on opposing nuclear weapons use