Chinese Prez Back in Tokyo After Decade Without Visit

High on the agenda: new panda for Japan
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2008 2:46 PM CDT
A Japanese demonstrator holds a "Stop Hu Jintao" poster during a rally against China's government in Tokyo, Tuesday, May 6, 2008.    (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
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(Newser) – Chinese President Hu Jintao today began a five-day trip to Japan, where he is expected to discuss a new panda for a popular zoo—and play ping-pong with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, the BBC reports. The visit is the first by a Chinese president in a decade, and patching up relations after a rocky period will be the main theme.

"Japan and China are both important countries in Asia and the world," Hu said upon arrival. "This will enhance friendship and co-operation in both countries." China suspended contact with Japan in 2001-2006 in response to PM's Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to a shrine the Chinese believe honors Japanese war criminals.