One day before the start of the G20 Osaka summit, visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a bilateral meeting in the city Thursday to underline the recent improvement in Japan-China ties and prepare for Xi's planned visit to Japan as a state guest next year.

At the outset of the meeting, Abe asked Xi to visit Japan, to which Xi immediately responded, saying "it's a good idea."

In addition, each of the two leaders separately said their countries should champion "free trade," remarks that could be interpreted as veiled criticism of the United States. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on Chinese and Japanese exports amid trade tensions.