By Zhang Haizhou
For 76-year-old Jia Di'e, the weeklong trip to Japan brings back warm memories of a visit to Tokyo he made with President Hu Jintao 23 years ago.
Jia, currently deputy director of the Board Trustees of China Youth Center for International Personnel Exchanges, is part of a 200-strong Chinese Youth Delegation who arrived in Japan on Sunday as part of the China-Japan Friendly Exchange Year.
The delegation will also attend the opening ceremony of the exchange year with Hu on Thursday in the Japanese capital.
The white-haired Jia and 49 other fellow members are part of the "youth" delegation because the group had accompanied Hu on his visit to Japan in 1985, when the president was the then first secretary of the Communist Youth League Central Committee.
Back in 1985, the visit by a delegation of 200 Chinese youth was aimed at boosting Sino-Japanese friendship to be carried into the 21st century, Jia said on Saturday.
The Chinese youth had received the "warmest welcome" from Japanese officials and residents, Jia said.
"Most of the delegation members, except for three or four top officials, all lived with Japanese host families during the stay," he said, adding that he made close friends through that unique experience - and looks forward to meeting them again this time round.
Compared with past exchanges, the latest youth visit will bring more "practical opportunities" for cooperation between both nations, said one of the delegation's organizers, Ni Jian, who is also assistant president of the All-China Youth Federation.
"The 1985 delegation was more about showing a posture of friendship, because Sino-Japanese ties had just been formalized in 1978," he said.