The first visit to China by a Japanese foreign minister in two years has signaled a thaw in ties between Beijing and Tokyo amid continuing rows over territorial and historical issues, but some experts remain skeptical that relations will improve further, given the differences in regional strategies.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono's visit to Beijing comes at a time when Japan and China mark 40 years since the signing of a bilateral peace and friendship treaty, and after both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have bolstered their domestic power bases.

Optimism has grown about the future course of Sino-Japanese relations, as Xi and Abe are expected to be able to move ahead with negotiations on various matters in an atmosphere where they can exert strong leadership.