Top Japanese diplomats and their Chinese counterparts met over the territorial row that have dragged relations on the brink of spilling over into a broader conflict in the region – a move seen as an attempt to calm troubled waters.

Reflecting what could be both sides’ “willingness” to repair ties, senior diplomats met in Shanghai earlier this week amid ensuing tensions as Chinese boats hover near waters deemed as Japan’s territory.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura confirmed that talks between Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Chikao Kawai and Chinese senior officials, including his counterpart, Zhang Zhijun, took place over the weekend. “Japan and China have been exchanging views over the current situation in regard to the Senkaku Islands on various levels,” Mr. Fujimura said at a press conference.

Growing concerns that the dispute has begun to hurt the countries’ giant economies have seemingly propelled both sides to diffuse the spat that has ignited several protests and boycotts, including China’s decision to sit out the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings in Tokyo earlier this month.