"I believe nurturing friendship between the young people of both countries through exchanges carries great significance," he said.
While raising a toast at the dinner, Hu also expressed his hopes for enhanced relations.
"Reviewing the past and looking to the future, we have every reason to believe that China-Japan relations are at a new historical starting point with new opportunities for growth," he said.
During the banquet, Hu and the emperor were entertained with performances of Chinese folk music by Japanese singer Shinji Tanimura.
Also on Wednesday, Hu and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda visited the Tangible Earth, a digital globe designed to help tackle climate change.
Environmental protection is a key element of the joint statement signed on Wednesday by the two leaders.
The Tangible Earth is a digital image of the planet on a 1-to-10 million scale that enables people to view it from any perspective and observe such things as the migration patterns of birds to ocean currents and air pollution.
(China Daily via agencies May 9, 2008)