President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent congratulatory letters as the two countries held a major event in Tokyo on Monday to boost people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
The first meeting of the China-Japan high-level consultation mechanism on people-to-people and cultural exchanges is the latest practical action taken by Beijing and Tokyo based on Xi and Abe's consensus reached during their meeting in Osaka in June.
Noting that Sino-Japanese relations are continuously improving, Xi's letter called on both sides to make good use of the mechanism to promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges and foster better mutual understanding so as to provide cultural and popular support for the building and development of China-Japan relations that fit the needs of the new era.
China and Japan are close neighbors enjoying deep historical and cultural connections, Xi said, adding that in their exchanges spanning over 2,000 years, the two peoples have learned from each other, which has not only promoted their respective development, but also contributed to the progress of Asian civilizations.
Xi said as the world has recently been going through profound changes, mankind cannot address common challenges and strive toward a bright future without the power of culture.
In order to do that, Xi said people of all countries in the world should grasp and conform to the trend of the times and deepen exchanges to write a new chapter of human civilization together.
In response, Abe said in his letter that the aim of the mechanism is to deepen mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples through broad exchanges.
He said he hoped the mechanism will consolidate the foundation of public opinion for the building of Japan-China relations that fit the needs of the new era, and contribute to opening up a new future for bilateral ties.
The letters from Xi and Abe were presented by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, respectively, at the beginning of the meeting on Monday.
During the meeting, China and Japan agreed to work together on a variety of areas including making two-way visits surpass 15 million annually as soon as possible, supporting each other in holding the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, enhancing sports communication and strengthening cooperation in cultural areas such as film, television, music and animation.
"The establishment of the mechanism is an important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and they have high expectations for it," Wang said at the meeting, adding that China is willing to strengthen overall planning with Japan to further expand mutual exchanges so as to create a strong bond and solid foundation for long-term development of bilateral ties.
Motegi said cultural exchanges between Japan and China have played an important role in enhancing mutual understanding and are an indispensable foundation for promoting bilateral relations.
"The two sides should actively carry out exchanges and cooperation in fields such as culture, sports and tourism," Motegi added.
On Monday, Wang also met with Abe, during which they agreed to continue working together for Xi's possible spring visit to Japan and to ensure it will be a success.
Abe said Japan is eagerly looking forward to Xi's state visit in the spring and he believes that it will be a major opportunity for promoting bilateral relations in the new era.
Wang called on the Japanese side to meet China halfway, take more positive actions and properly manage and handle differences so as to create a favorable atmosphere and conditions for the proposed major political and diplomatic agenda of the two countries.