Xi welcomes Japan delegation but warns against historical distortion

Updated: 2015-05-23 22:10

By ZHAO SHENGNAN(chinadaily.com.cn)

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Xi welcomes Japan delegation but warns against historical distortion

President Xi Jinping gives a speech during the China-Japan friendship exchange meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, May 23, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]

President Xi Jinping extended a warm welcome to an unusually large Japanese delegation in Beijing on Saturday while also sending a warning against to any attempt to distort Japan's wartime history.

The delegation of about 3,000 people, headed by a heavyweight figure from Japan's ruling party, marks the largest mission between the two countries since the relationship became frosty in September 2012.

Xi made the remarks during a high profile event aiming at expanding China-Japan exchanges at the Great Hall of the People.

The root of China-Japan friendship comes from the public, and the future of the relationship is in the hands of the people, Xi said at the ceremony in downtown Beijing.

China attaches great importance to the relationship and would like to work with the Japanese side to promote friendly neighborhood and cooperation, based on the four political documents between the two countries, he said.

The delegation that arrived in Beijing on Friday included heads of local governments and big enterprises. It is widely seen as the latest sign of thawing relations between China and Japan, dealings that have been hit by territorial rows and historical issues.

Xi said this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and the war's victims, including China, will never accept words and actions by the Japanese side that distort history.

Toshihiro Nikai, head of the delegation and chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party's General Council, said all the members joined the delegation voluntarily.

He underscored the importance of increasing mutual understanding between both countries' younger generations, pledging to work with the Chinese side for the relationship's development.

Tourism chilled after the Japanese government illegally "purchased" China's Diaoyu Islands in September 2012.

In 2013, the number of Chinese tourists to Japan had dropped 6.5 percent year on year to 1.83 million. The number has surged recently, with more than 2.4 million Chinese tourists visiting Japan last year.