The governor of Tokyo said yesterday on a visit to Beijing that he hoped his trip to the capital would help mend strained ties between China and Japan. "Relations between Japan and China are tense and there's great significance in the people of Beijing asking me to come here," Governor Yoichi Masuzoe told reporters after arriving for a three-day visit. He said improving ties would be a step-by-step process. "You can't do everything immediately, but there are a number of things we can do: for instance, meet about environmental problems, co-ordinate exchanges between students studying abroad," he said. "By adding these things together, we can improve relations between both countries." Analysts said last week that the mayor's visit to the capital might open an alternative channel of communication between the two countries. Diplomatic ties between China and Japan have been weighed down by the territorial dispute over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, which are known as the Senkakus in Japan. Beijing was also angered by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Yasukuni war shrine last December, which houses convicted war criminals. Meanwhile Yang Yujun , a spokesman at the Ministry of Defence in Beijing, declined to comment yesterday on whether the People's Liberation Army was ready for a potential military conflict with Japan over the Diaoyus. At a regular press briefing, Yang said Beijing always stuck to a "tit-for-tat" rule to safeguard its territorial integrity, hinting that China would not start any military action, but would fight back if provoked.