BEIJING, Nov 22 (Reuters) – The junior coalition partner of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has sent a delegation to Beijing to meet with China’s top leadership team as Asia’s two largest economies seek to improve strained ties.

A Komeito party delegation led by the leader of the party Natsuo Yamaguchi on Wednesday met with Cai Qi, head of the powerful Secretariat of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee that oversees day-to-day affairs of the CPC.

The ruling parties of both countries should “accurately grasp each other’s development and strategic intentions,” Chinese state media quoted Cai as telling the Japanese delegation.

Both sides should work together to promote “positive” and “friendly” mutual understanding, added Cai, also the fifth-ranked member of the CPC’s seven-person Politburo Standing Committee, the highest tier of political power in China helmed by President Xi Jinping.

The visit came on the heels of rare face-to-face talks between Xi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, also LDP’s leader, on the sidelines of an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the United States last week during which both sides affirmed their strategic relationship.

Bilateral ties have become strained after the neighbours clashed over issues from Japan’s release of treated radioactive water into the ocean to maritime territorial claims, detention of Japanese citizens, data taiwan and export curbs.

In a survey of Japanese firms with operations in China released on Tuesday, the number of companies planning to expand in the country fell below 30% for the first time in a reflection of the fraught ties.

Wednesday’s meeting also touched on the discharge of the radioactive water. Despite China’s repeated protests, Japan started dumping water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in late August, swiftly prompting a Chinese ban on Japanese seafood imports and the postponement of Yamaguchi’s visit.

Yamaguchi’s two-day visit this week, originally scheduled for end-August, is expected to set the stage for a resumption of dialogue between the LDP-Komeito coalition and the CPC, after both sides broke off talks in 2018. (Reporting by Ryan Woo; editing by Jason Neely, Alexandra Hudson)