China and Japan have agreed to strengthen educational co-operation and cultural exchanges by sending more young people to visit each other's nation.
The Ministry of Education told China Daily yesterday that starting this year, China would send 1,250 senior middle school students to Japan each year.
The same number of Japanese students will also come to China annually, to gain a better understanding of the country.
About 1,100 of the total 1,250 students will stay in Japan for 10 days, and others will undertake yearly or half-yearly study programmes, said Xue Yanqing, director of the Asian and African Affairs division with the ministry's international co-operation and exchanges department.
"We hope young people from both countries can gain a true understanding of modern China and Japan, so that misunderstandings and prejudice brought about from history can be cleared up," he said.
The first group of 200 students to visit Japan will set out in May and are being hosted by the Tokyo-based Japan-China Friendship Centre.
Students will visit three to four cities in 10 days and visit houses of local residents to experience a day in the life of an average Japanese person.
The ministry said all 200 students had been chosen from senior high schools nationwide.
Preferential policies will be given to remote areas in recommending students.
Besides the programme, the Japanese Embassy in Beijing also announced yesterday that Japan would provide free TV programmes, worth 35.4 million yen (US$300,000), to China Education TV.
Most of the programmes will be science and technology documentaries, said the embassy.
This project comes at a time when Sino-Japanese relations are facing difficulties. Beijing has repeatedly pledged it will continue to actively promote Sino-Japanese ties in diversified fields.
President Hu Jintao told seven visiting Japan-China friendship organizations in late March that he hoped mutual understanding and friendship between the two sides would improve, especially among the young.
Visiting Japanese Vice-Foreign Minister Kaneda Katsutoshi held talks with Chinese Vice-Minister of Education Wu Qidi yesterday.
He said in the meeting that besides close economic ties between the two countries, "we should also strengthen co-operation in education and culture."