Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe arrived in Beijing on Thursday in hopes of cooling tensions rising between China and Japan over territorial and historical issues.

In the first visit by a Tokyo mayor since 2008, Masuzoe's three-day trip comes at a time when almost no high-level political contacts have been made for several years between Asia's two biggest economies because of the row over the Senkaku Islands reignited by Masuzoe's predecessor, nationalist former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara.

"I think it would be good if our city-to-city diplomacy could lead to an improvement in relations between Japan and China," Masuzoe, the first Tokyo mayor to be invited by Beijing's municipal government in 18 years, told reporters before departing from Tokyo.