President Hu Jintao will start a five-day visit to Japan next Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry announced yesterday - signaling a further warming of relations.
The visit will be the first by a Chinese president in 10 years and "we hope we can enhance mutual political trust and pragmatic cooperation through the trip," spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular briefing.
She said Hu will meet Japanese Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.
"China is keen to work together with Japan to further promote relations," Jiang added.
Japanese media have given extensive coverage to Hu's impending visit; and Kyodo news agency reported earlier this month that the president is scheduled to play pingpong with Fukuda in Tokyo-based Waseda University after delivering a speech there.
Premier Wen Jiabao played baseball with Japanese students during his 2006 ice-thawing Japan tour; and played catch with Fukuda during the latter's visit to China last year.
Hu yesterday met former Japanese prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone and said China will work with Japan to push forward strategic relations for mutual benefit.
"Developing the relationship is not only in the basic interests of both nations and people, but also conducive to peace and stability in Asia and the whole world," he added.
Sino-Japanese ties have improved markedly since Fukuda's China visit, soon after he was elected prime minister, at the end of last year.
"The Chinese government values relations with Japan, and sticks to the guideline of building a good-neighborly partnership," Hu said.
"We thank the Japanese government for its support of the one-China policy, and its support for the Beijing Olympic Games," he added.
Noting the importance of Japan-China ties, Nakasone said he hoped the two countries seize the opportunity of Hu's upcoming visit to open a new chapter in their relations.
Xinhua contributed to this story
Source: China Daily