Expectations are growing in Japan that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping for an ice-breaking chat next month, while an aide signaled that Abe may postpone visits to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine that have infuriated Beijing in the past.

Any talks between the two leaders on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific leaders gathering in Beijing in November would likely be well-choreographed, but without the trappings of a formal summit, a Japanese diplomatic source said.

A one-on-one meeting would nonetheless be a symbolic breakthrough in ties between the world's second- and third-biggest economies, which have turned frigid in the past two years over a territorial row, regional rivalry and the bitter legacy of Japan's wartime occupation of China.