• Kyodo

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Some 6,000 Japanese, including former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, attended a welcoming dinner here Saturday to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and China.

Hashimoto and about 80 fellow Japanese lawmakers were among the participants at the massive event, organized by the China National Tourism Administration, at the capital’s Great Hall of the People.

“I hope tourism exchanges between Japan and China will expand and bilateral friendship will deepen,” Hashimoto said in a speech.

Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen said, “Looking back on the history of bilateral relations, the most important lesson was ‘viewing history as a mirror and looking forward to the future.’

“We are willing to further enlarge and deepen the friendly exchanges and cooperation in this spirit,” he said.

A total of 590 round tables seating 10 people each were installed in the hall, in addition to a larger table for the Chinese hosts and Japanese lawmakers.

The dinner Saturday marked the start of a series of events that will last until mid-October to commemorate the joint declaration signed by Japan and China on Sept. 29, 1972.

The CNTA has invited some 13,000 Japanese to take part in the events.

On Sunday, a folk-song concert co-organized by the two countries was held at the hall, featuring performances by well-known artists, such as Japanese pop diva Ayumi Hamasaki.

On Oct. 1 Japan’s Shiki Theater Company will perform Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” under the baton of famed Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa.

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