President Jiang Zemin said yesterday that China and Japan should enhance coordination and cooperation in this century as friendly neighbors.
"There is no reason why we should not enjoy friendship and cooperation," Jiang said when addressing a conference held yesterday in Beijing to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese diplomatic ties.
Jiang said Japan's post-war decision to seek peaceful development, a decision based on lessons drawn from the war, has not only aided the country's astounding development but also created conditions for the re-building and further development of Sino-Japanese friendly relations.
The president said bilateral relations have achieved remarkable progress in the past three decades.
He said bilateral economic and cultural cooperation and personnel exchanges have reached unprecedented height and the two sides have achieved a major political consensus and established guiding principles for the further development of bilateral ties.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said at the conference that it is the common aspiration of the two peoples to establish more stable and closer Japan-China relations.
Jiang urged the politicians, especially the state leaders of the two countries, to shoulder the responsibility of strengthening mutual trust and promoting cooperation to benefit the peoples of the two countries and promote regional and world peace and development.
Jiang said person-to-person exchanges have played an irreplaceable role in developing bilateral relations.
"We will not forget our old friends who have been dedicated to the promotion of Sino-Japanese relations and we welcome new friends to join in this cause," Jiang said.
The conference was attended by more than 13,800 Japanese visitors who came to China to participate in a wide range of civilian exchange activities between the two neighbors to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the normalization of bilateral ties.
Led by Hashimoto, the Japanese tourists came to China for the activity, the biggest civilian exchange in history between the two countries.
"Looking back on the history of bilateral relations, the most important lesson was 'viewing history as a mirror and looking forward to the future'," said Vice-Premier Qian Qichen on Saturday when addressing the welcoming reception.
"We are willing to further enlarge and deepen friendly exchanges and cooperation in this spirit.
"As neighbors and important nations in Asia and the world, we should join hands to make more contributions to peace and development in Asia and the world," he said.
Chikage Ogi, Japan's Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister, said: "I hope this activity will encourage more civilian exchanges and promote bilateral relations."
As part of the celebration, 5,000 Chinese and Japanese people joined in planting trees by the Great Wall in a "friendship forest" yesterday morning.
The Chinese president wrote the Chinese characters for the title of the activity -- "The 10,000-people friendship forest for China-Japan friendly ties" -- which was engraved on a monument unveiled during the ceremony.
The "friendship forest" will stand witness to long-lasting Sino-Japanese friendship, said He Guangwei, director of the China National Tourism Administration.
Since 1990, the two countries have worked together to promote tourism.
The number of Japanese tourists coming to China has been increasing at an annual two-digit rate. It has become one of the most important tourist countries for China, accounting for 22 percent of the total number of foreign tourists coming here.
Last year, the number of Japanese tourists to China hit 2.39 million, an increase of 8.3 percent over figures for the previous year.
People-to-people exchanges between China and Japan have entered a flourishing stage at this historic moment celebrating the 30th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese ties, said Zeng Qinghong, alternate member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and member of the committee's secretariat, when meeting the group yesterday.
Zeng said the friendship caters to the basic interests of the two countries and two peoples and benefits peace, stability and development in Asia and the world at large.
Japan's three ruling parties are determined to follow and develop the friendly tradition between the two countries and contribute further to bilateral relations, Ryutaro Hashimoto told Zeng.
(China Daily September 23, 2002)