Abdul'ahat Abdulrixit, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top advisory body, met on Wednesday with Shinoda Akira, mayor of Japan's Niigata city.
Abdul'ahat said China attaches great importance to the friendship between the two countries. "This year marks the 35th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan relations, and is also the year of China-Japan cultural and sports exchanges, we hope the two countries will take this good opportunity to further improve bilateral relations," he said.
Abdul'ahat hailed a recent visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Japan, saying the visit was a "great success" and marked a new period for the development of China-Japan relations.
Shinoda said he was glad that Japan-China relationship has improved to a great extent, adding that Niigata city hopes to strengthen tourism, cultural and economic and trade exchanges with China, and be a bridge for Japan-China friendship.
In an interview with Xinhua, Shinoda said Premier Wen's visit to Japan was a big success and has further ensured the momentum of the improvement of Japan-China relations, adding he felt it a pity that Premier Wen did not visit Niigata due to his busy agenda.
He stressed the importance of people-to-people exchanges between Japan and China, saying Niigata, which has kept friendly and cooperative relations with Harbin city of China, will continue to strengthen exchanges with other areas of China.
Shinoda is visiting China mainly for attending the opening ceremony of an office of Niigata in Beijing which aims at soliciting Chinese tourists and investments. He arrived in Beijing Monday and will conclude the visit on Thursday.
Niigata Prefecture was hometown of Japanese former Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei. Niigata city and China's Harbin announced to be sister cities in 1979.
(Xinhua News Agency April 18, 2007)