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TOKYO: Despite high levels of tension in official relations between the two countries, a group of 20 Soka Gakkai youth members from Japan visited China from August 8-13, hosted by the All-China Youth Federation (ACYF), continuing a tradition of exchange that began in 1979.
The delegation was led by Soka Gakkai youth division leader Nobuhisa Tanano and young women's leader Yuki Yoshii and included representatives of the organization's youth division international group, arts group and academic division.
On August 8 they visited the China-Japan Friendship Association in Beijing where they were welcomed by Vice-President Wang Xiu-yun who stressed the importance of the decades of friendship exchange linking the two groups.
That evening, a reception was held where Ms. Wang Hong-Yin, member of the secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China and representative of the All-China Youth Federation, welcomed the group. She expressed her appreciation for the pioneering efforts of former Soka Gakkai President Daisaku Ikeda in constructing a bridge of friendship between Japan and China, and commented, "Our two countries are currently experiencing difficulties, but this youth delegation has come to send a message of friendship to the people of China."
The group also visited the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Beijing, where they presented a wreath in honor of the war dead.
They then traveled to Qinghai Province bordering Tibet, where they spent a day meeting people from various ethnic minority groups, and then to Shanghai, where they were hosted by the Shanghai Youth Federation.
Throughout the visit, those meeting the delegation stressed that there was particular significance to this exchange because of the current tensions in relations between the two countries.
related article Soka Gakkai Japan and Singapore Soka Association Contribute to Myanmar Cyclone Relief Soka Gakkai General Director Masaaki Masaki visited the Tokyo office of the UNHCR to make a donation of 3 million yen (US$28,800) in support of relief efforts following the cyclone in Myanmar. On their return, members of the Soka Gakkai group commented on how their perspectives had changed following the visit. Delegation leader Nobuhisa Tanano stated, "I feel that now, the year marking the 35th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People's Republic of China, is the time when we youth have to create a new history of China-Japan relationship and a new era of friendship. Through feeling the warm sincerity of the Chinese people, we have learned that it is not through the signing of treaties but only through direct person to person connection that true friendship can be built."
Since 1979, a total of 16 delegations from Soka Gakkai have visited China and 19 delegations from the ACYF have visited Japan. In 1985, when a delegation headed by Hu Jintao, later President of China from 2002-2012, visited Japan, an exchange agreement was signed between the ACYF and the Soka Gakkai youth division. In 1968, then Soka Gakkai President Daisaku Ikeda first proposed normalization of relations between China and Japan in a landmark speech and he has consistently promoted programs of cultural and educational exchange as a means of furthering mutual understanding and peace.
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