China, Japan intensify exchange visits

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-23 07:18

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 months.

Tang said China-Japanese relations face opportunities as well as challenges; and the two sides should view objectively and treat positively each other's development.

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 reported.

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)

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