BEIJING - Beijing and Tokyo are planning to launch a grand opening ceremony in mid-February to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan diplomatic relations, Japanese Ambassador to China Uichiro Niwa said in an exclusive interview with China Daily on Thursday.
China and Japan normalized diplomatic relations in 1972. Both countries agreed to mark 2012 as a year of friendship for Japan-China people-to-people exchanges, which will include the theme of "encounters with new friends and bounds of hearts".
The agenda for the commemoration is based on the "tangible and substantial achievements established in the past 40 years", he said.
The second Japan-China Green Expo and a series of receptions and commemorative ceremonies are expected in cities including Beijing this fall to mark the 40th anniversary of the historical release of the China-Japan Joint Declaration on Sept 29, 1972.
The year-long series will conclude in the winter, the ambassador said. "Sports, movies, animation and cartoons, music and youth exchanges are among the priorities campaigned by both sides" to promote public diplomacy, Niwa said.
Japan is also planning exhibitions in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong from mid-February to March to show its dynamic side and rapid revival after the earthquake and tsunami last March, the Japanese embassy told China Daily.
Niwa took office as the top senior diplomat based in China in July 2010. "I have visited 18 of China's provinces, municipalities and special administrative regions," the ambassador said.
China and Japan have in recent years witnessed some ups and downs in bilateral ties, but the past year has seen signs of mutual understanding growing against the backdrop of top policymakers' frequent communication in various levels in the international arena.
President Hu Jintao held talks in Beijing on Dec 25 with visiting Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. During the visit, both sides agreed to launch a massive youth exchange plan this year involving around 5,000 people.
"In addition to high school and college students, high-profiled officials, scholars, journalists of the younger generation from various fields in both sides are also among the participants," Niwa said.
In 1984, a delegation of 3,000 Japanese youth was invited to visit China. It was a milestone in bilateral ties. Noda was a part of the Japanese delegation, and he has spoken about the benefits of that visit on several recent occasions.
"For the sake of Japan and China's future, we hope the youths (from both sides) can enhance their mutual understanding," Niwa said.
Niwa graduated from Nagoya University in 1962, where he was a law major. He spent around 48 years at Itochu Corporation and became an influential entrepreneur.
Before his diplomatic mission in Beijing, Niwa was board president of the leading Japanese firm, which has been ranked in Fortune magazine's top 500 enterprises list. His diplomatic focus seems to never steer clear of financial affairs and bilateral trade.
"Promoting CNY and JPY denominated direct transactions, bonds market and financial product services is among the consensus reached by Tokyo and Beijing aimed at boosting bilateral financial cooperation and transactions," Niwa said.
Noda's visit in December brought fruitful "economic" results, Niwa said, and it benefits Japanese enterprises' commercial participation in China-based businesses and also "the market in Tokyo".
Related governing bodies of Tokyo and Beijing should embark on joint research and reconciliation to eliminate "limitations and conventional constraints" that haunt bilateral trade and transactions, he said.
"The economic growth of Asian countries, especially China, will become a dynamic driving force for our domestic economy," he said.