China and Japan have agreed to exchange visits of more than 20,000 people
from both countries as part of activities to mark the 35th anniversary of the
normalization of diplomatic ties, Xinhua reported yesterday.
The visits will be sponsored by governments and will be separate from tourist
or business travel.
The agreement was reached by Nikai Toshihiro, chairman of the Diet Affairs
Committee of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and China's National
Tourism Administration Director Shao Qiwei on Saturday.
During the meeting, Nikai and Yoshio Urushibara of LDP's coalition partner
New Komeito Party also informed Shao of Japan's plan to increase from four to
six the number of Chinese cities where visit visas can be obtained.
Nikai and his delegation are visiting China at the invitation of the
China-Japan Friendship Association.
State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan also met Nikai yesterday, and called on the two
countries to increase mutual trust.
Nikai brought a letter from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Premier Wen
Jiabao, which said Abe welcomes the Chinese leader's visit, according to
Japanese media reports.
China confirmed on January 14 that Wen would visit Japan in the next few
Tang said China-Japanese relations face opportunities as well as challenges;
and the two sides should view objectively and treat positively each other's
Sino-Japanese relations were strained during the five-year term of former
Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, who repeatedly visited Yasukuni
Shrine, which honors Japanese war criminals of World War II.
But ties have warmed after Abe's visit to Beijing last October his first
overseas trip after taking office the previous month.
In a sign of warming relations, Nikai said that if Wen wishes to address the
Japanese parliament during his visit, Tokyo "would work on it," Jiji Press
Tang said the message was "very important", the Japanese news agency said.
Peng Zhen, then chairman of the Standing Committee of the Sixth National
People's Congress, was the last Chinese leader to address the Japanese
parliament in 1985.
Nikai's visit is a prelude to the exchange of high-level visits this year.
Japan's Kyoto new agency reported that Abe would probably visit China again
this summer or fall, quoting Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiji Suzuki as
saying on Saturday.
"Since Abe's ice-breaking visit to China last October broke the political
stalemate, bilateral exchanges at all levels have become more frequent,
high-level exchanges will be regularized, and people-to-people exchanges will be
encouraged," said Jin Xide, deputy director of the Institute of Japanese Studies
affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"In general, the main trend of Sino-Japanese relations this year will be
good," said Jin.
The Japanese Nikkei newspaper also reported that Chinese navy vessels are
likely to visit a Japanese port in August, followed by a Maritime Self-Defense
Force return trip next year.
Chinese authorities have not confirmed the report but Jin said if it is true,
it would be unprecedented.
Top legislator Wu Bangguo also met Nikai yesteday.
China Daily and Agencies
(China Daily 01/23/2007 page1)