By Jiang Qiaomei
TOKYO, Sept. 20 (ChinaMil) -- The Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) hosted a reception to welcome a delegation of colonel-level officers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Tokyo on Thursday.
The visit is part of the defense exchange program between the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, the Sasakawa Japan-China Friendship Fund and the China Institution for International Strategic Studies.
Since the program was launched in 2001, China and Japan have had exchange of visits by about 152 Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) officers and 228 Chinese PLA military officers. However, the mutual visits were suspended in February of 2012, and restarted in April last year.
Dr. Satohiro Akimoto, president of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, said in his welcome speech that the exchange of visits not only provides an important platform for mutual understanding between the two defense departments, but also helps in deepening the mutual trust between the people of the two countries.
Major General Song Yanchao, the head of the PLA delegation and deputy director of the Chinese Defense Ministry's Office for International Military Cooperation, expected that the visit to Japan will enhance mutual understanding and promote friendship and cooperation between the two sides; the exchange program for the middle-aged and young military officers from both sides may also serve as an important bridge for China-Japan friendship, and become valuable assets for the development of the bilateral relations.
Kong Xuanyou, Chinese ambassador to Japan, pointed out that with the joint efforts of people from all walks of life, China-Japan relations, including defense exchanges, can always develop steadily along the right track, and play an important role in safeguarding the world peace and promoting common development.