The central government is considering sending national security adviser Shotaro Yachi to Beijing in September to lay the groundwork for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to China, sources close to bilateral relations said Wednesday.

Tokyo and Beijing are expected to make arrangements for Abe to visit China and meet with President Xi Jinping around Oct. 23, when the two nations celebrate the 40th anniversary of the enactment of a bilateral peace and friendship treaty. Yachi, a close aide to Abe, is likely to meet with high-ranking Chinese official Yang Jiechi, a political bureau member of the Chinese Communist Party, to work out the details of Abe's visit, according to the sources.

Abe's trip to China would mark a further thaw in bilateral relations that have often been marred by issues related to territorial disputes and wartime history.

Aside from trips to attend international conferences, Abe's visit would be the first to China by a Japanese prime minister since December 2011.

Japan hopes to deepen economic and security cooperation with China and pave the way for Xi to visit Japan, possibly next June.

Beijing initially sounded out Tokyo about the possibility of a December visit by Abe to China for a trilateral summit that would also involve South Korea.

But China has apparently tilted toward strengthening Sino-Japanese ties amid the trade conflict between Beijing and Washington, the sources said.