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TOKYO - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Japan would be another step forward in Sino-Japanese relations, Chinese ambassador to Japan Chen Yonghua said.
It will be the first visit to Japan by a Chinese head of government since the Yukio Hatoyama cabinet was formed last September, and would be of great importance, Chen said.
"Over the past 38 years since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1972, the bilateral relations have played an important role in the development of both countries," said the ambassador.
Chen said that nearly 5 million tourists in the two countries visited the other side last year and more than 240 pairs of cities have established friendly ties, indicating closer contacts between the two peoples.
After ups and downs in bilateral ties in the first few years of the 21st century, the two sides had signed the fourth political document and forged strategic mutually beneficial relations thanks to their joint efforts, including frequent exchange of visits.
"The relations have already returned to a healthy track and are entering a new phase of development," Chen said.
Premier Wen is due to arrive in Japan on Sunday. During his stay, he is scheduled to meet with Emperor Akihito, hold talks with Prime Minister Hatoyama and speakers of both houses of the Japanese parliament. The Chinese leader will also have dialogues with business and civil groups and will be interviewed by public broadcaster NHK.
Chen said the visit would promote mutual understanding and political trust, adding that economically, the two sides would reach more agreements on green economy and energy conservation.
The Chinese premier's scheduled meeting with Japanese civil groups testifies to the high value the two governments have placed on people-to-people exchanges, and will enhance the friendly feelings between the two peoples, thus laying foundation for further development of the bilateral ties, said the ambassador.
"I believe that through these programs, the Sino-Japanese relations will make a big step forward. I'm sure Premier Wen's visit will be a big success," Chen said.