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Friendship Delegation Arrives in Beijing
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After visits to Shanghai and Northwest China's Gansu Province, the Japan-China friendship delegation will today arrive in Beijing for the final leg of a weeklong friendship tour.


The 220-member group, led by former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, mostly comprises people, or their delegates, who took part in the largest-ever Japan-China youth gathering in 1984, as well as representatives from several Japanese friendship organizations.


The group arrived in Shanghai on Thursday, where many of them marveled at the dramatic changes the city has experienced since they were last there 23 years ago.


Some 3,000 young Japanese visited China in the autumn of 1984, making it the largest foreign group the country had received since 1949. They met with about 1 million Chinese youths from all walks of life to celebrate the 12th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese relations.


The event was described as unprecedented in the history of China-Japan friendship and was highly regarded in both countries.


Before this year's delegation left for Gansu on Saturday, many of the older members paid a special visit to Luxun Park, the site of the 1984 gathering, where a clock was erected to commemorate the event.


"Although I haven't seen it for 23 years, I was still very excited. The park has changed a lot, but at the first sight of the clock, memories of those heartwarming days came flooding back to me," a delegation member was quoted by Shanghai Youth as saying.


During their three-day stay in Shanghai, the delegation visited the Shanghai Stock Exchange and Bao Steel Co Ltd, a heavyweight in the industry.


They also visited an agricultural and gardening area, and called in on some local families to engage in cultural activities such as diabolo, calligraphy and ikebana.


Their Shanghai stay was further enriched by trips to the city's bar association, media organizations, a university, the TV tower and several museums.


For the second leg of their tour, the group went to Lanzhou, the provincial capital of Gansu.


After being divided into 10 groups, the delegation explored the province to find out about its economic, social, political and cultural facets.


Hosted by the China Federation of Youth, the group will end its tour on Wednesday.


The trip forms part of the activities being held to celebrate the 2007 China-Japan Culture and Sports Year and the 35th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese relations.


After years of strained relations between the two countries, the situation was improved after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited China in October 2006. Relations were further warmed following Wen Jiabao's trip to Japan earlier this year.


(China Daily June 18, 2007)

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