Heads of seven Japan-China friendship organizations from Japan arrived in Beijing Thursday for their first joint visit to China.
The Chinese leaders will meet with the Japanese guests, according to sources with the Foreign Ministry.
During their three-day stay in China, they will exchange views with people in charge of relevant organizations from the Chinese side on how to increase non-governmental exchanges and promote the growth of bilateral relations.
The seven organizations are the Japanese Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Association of Dietmen League for Japan-China Friendship, Japan-China Friendship Association, Japan-China Cultural Exchange Association, Japan-China Association on Economy and Trade, Japan-China Society and Japan-China Friendship Center.
Among the Japanese delegation are former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and former Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura.
They make the visit as guest of the China-Japan Friendship Association.
The Sino-Japanese ties was soured by Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi's repeated visits to a shrine worshipping WWII war criminals.
The heads of the two neighboring countries have halted the exchange of visits for over four years, ever since Koizumi began paying homage to the controversial war shrine soon after he took office in 2001.
The non-governmental ties, an important aspect of Sino-Japanese relations, draw high attention of the Chinese leadership.
"We should strengthen the people-to-people exchanges and enhance mutual understanding and trust," Premier Wen Jiabao said at a press conference following the concluding meeting of the Fourth Session of the Tenth National People's Congress.
(Xinhua News Agency March 30, 2006)