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Hu leaves for state visit to Japan
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At the invitation of Japanese government, Chinese President Hu Jintao left Beijing on Tuesday morning for a state visit to Japan from May 6 to 10.

During the visit, Hu will meet with Japan's Emperor Akihito and hold talks with Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said earlier.

The president will also have "broad contacts" with leaders of Japan's parliament and political parties and people from all circles to discuss the promotion of China-Japan relations and other issues of common concern.

Prior to his departure, Hu said that the visit was aimed at enhancing mutual trust, friendship and cooperation, making programs for the future, and comprehensively pushing forward bilateral strategic and reciprocal relations.

"Facts have proved that the development of long-term, stable, and good neighborly friendship between China and Japan is in the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples," Hu told a joint interview on Sunday with journalists from 16 Japanese media institutions stationed in Beijing.

Hu's visit is the first by a Chinese president to Japan over the past decade and is seen as a step to further improve the once-chilly Sino-Japanese relationship, which started to warm with the "ice-breaking" visit by former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to China in October 2006. That event was followed by the "ice-thawing" Japan trip by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in April 2007 and Fukuda's "spring-herald" visit to China last December.

(Xinhua News Agency May 6, 2008)

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