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Students Foster Ties with Japanese Counterparts

More than 200 Chinese students began their week-long study tour of Japan on Wednesday. They will explore ways to enhance mutual understanding and friendship with their counterparts.

As the first group of Chinese high school students to visit Japan this year -- the China-Japan Friendly Youth Exchange Year -- the students were impressed by what they experienced on their first day.

Sun Xiaoyu, 17, of Beijing No 63 High School, was warmly welcomed when she visited the Naruse High School in Tokyo.

"I am delighted to have this opportunity to understand more about Japan and especially its young people who are very open and polite.

"We attended classes, played games, and had discussions with our Japanese peers on various topics from studies to hobbies to environment protection.

"I was very impressed by their Chinese calligraphy class and I found the two countries share many close links in language and culture," Sun said.

Wu Zishuo, 17, of Beijing No 35 High School, said he admired Japanese students' colorful school life.

"Compared with us concentrating solely on academic marks, the Japanese students have more school activities such as baseball, kendo and tea ceremonies," Wu said.

Ishibashi Takuya, 17, of the Naruse High School, said he was excited to see his Chinese counterparts. Takuya visited China earlier this month with a Japanese high school delegation as part of the friendly exchange year.

"I made a dozen Chinese friends and was invited to Beijing to attend the Olympics," Takuya said.

Organized by the Chinese Ministry of Education and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chinese delegation will also visit eight other cities and prefectures including Osaka, Hyogo and Hokkaido during the week.

The exchange year is the result of a meeting between Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in Singapore last November.

Wen said: "It is a common wish and a general trend that China and Japan should maintain friendship from one generation to another.

"When we met in Singapore for the first time, Japan's Prime Minister and I reached a consensus that we should launch the China-Japan Friendly Youth Exchange Year to mark the 30th anniversary of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty."

Each country will send 2,000 young people on exchange visits this year. It will continue for three years.

Experts have welcomed the people-to-people exchange, crucial for a healthy and prosperous relationship between the two countries. It will help break down prejudice and misunderstanding among the people.

(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2008)

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