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Hu begins 'warm spring' trip to Japan
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Hu's visit to Japan 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 last April and Fukuda's "spring-herald" visit to China last December.

Sino-Japanese relations now are improving further. The leaders of the two countries have maintained frequent contacts, and cooperation in politics, trade, culture and defense has made remarkable achievements. The two countries have also conducted close consultations on global issues like climate change and sustainable development.

The economies of the two countries are deeply intertwined. China was Japan's top trading partner last year while Japan was China's third largest with two-way trade amounting to 236 billion U.S. dollars. Japan's accumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) in China has reached 60.7 billion dollars, which makes Japan China's second-largest foreign investment source.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship, and the two countries observe the China-Japan Friendly Exchange Year of Youth in 2008.

At a press conference on April 29, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said China hopes that Hu's visit to Japan could enhance political trust, deepen practical cooperation in various fields and expand people-to-people exchanges, in a bid to jointly promote strategic and mutually beneficial relations between the two countries.

"The improvement and development of the Sino-Japanese relationship are in the fundamental interests of both peoples and also conducive to peace, stability and development in Asia. We are ready to make joint efforts with Japan to further the relationship," Jiang said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 6, 2008)

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