Japanese and Chinese trade ministers have agreed to establish a framework to discuss export controls, Japanese media reported on Wednesday, indicating steps on economic cooperation after a period of strained ties between the neighbors.

Trade Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said the talks could help stabilize relations.

"We will hold firm discussions with Chinese officials to build constructive and stable Japan-China relations," Nishimura was quoted as saying after talks with his counterpart, Wang Wentao, on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in San Francisco.

The dialogue is expected to be held by officials at the level of director-general and section chief, who are in charge of export controls, the Yomiuri daily reported.

China has recently imposed curbs on the exports of some materials, including chipmaking metals like gallium, and is expected to restrict exports of graphite, used in batteries, in December.

The talks are aimed at preventing an escalation of retaliatory trade disputes with China, the Yomiuri reported.

Before heading to the U.S. to attend the APEC meeting, Kishida told reporters nothing has been decided regarding a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines.

"There is no change in our basic stance that both sides must make the effort to maintain stable and constructive relations," Kishida said. "We would like to continue communicating (with China) in various forms."

Relations between China and Japan, rarely smooth, have been particularly strained over recent months.

Japan infuriated China when it began releasing treated radioactive water from its wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant into the ocean in August.

China last month formally arrested a Japanese executive, an employee of Japanese drugmaker Astellas Pharma, on suspicion of espionage. The arrest has had a chilling effect on business, Japanese officials said.