By Tenzin Sangmo
Pro-Tibet supporters hold flags during anti-China rally in front of Nara station in Nara, western Japan May 10, 2008, during Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the western Japan.
REUTERS/Issei Kato (JAPAN)
New Delhi, May 10 - Hu Jintao's five day visit to Japan was undoubtedly considered to be of 'historical importance'. This was the first trip by a Chinese leader to its traditional rival since Jiang Zemin in 1998 during which the two countries shared strained relations over Japan's wartime occupation of China. It was also the Chinese President's first overseas visit since the instability in Tibet in March.
Even with careful approach on the part of Japanese leaders, the question of Tibet loomed large during Hu's stay. At a press conference Wednesday the Chinese President expressed hope at a fruitful dialogue between the envoys of the Dalai Lama and representatives from the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party.
"We hope the contacts will achieve positive result", he had quoted.
Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, during the press conference had said, "I have high expectations that the dialogue will be held patiently, and through that for the situation to improve and the international community's concerns to be dispelled."
Lodi Gyari, special envoy of the Dalai Lama after talks with the Chinese counterparts in Shenzen termed it as a 'good first step'. A date for the seventh round of Sino-Tibetan dialogue is scheduled to be finalized after mutual consultations.
Thousands of pro-Tibet activists took to the streets during Hu Jintao's visit condemning Beijing's crackdown in Tibet and urging the Japanese government to apply more pressure on China.
Riot police had to form a human chain to keep off protestors from Tokyo's Hibiya Park, where they raised anti-China slogans and chanted 'Arrest the murderer Hu!' and 'Hu, get out!'
Elsewhere, about 4,200 people including Tibetans and China's Ulighur minority rallied carrying signs that read 'Hu Jintao, respect the Olympic spirit' and 'Don't' kill our friends'.
Hu Jintao on Saturday described his visit as 'successful'. The Chinese leader visited the Toshodaiji Temple in Nara, a revered Buddhist temple built by Chinese monk Ganjin in 759 on his final day in Japan.
"This visit was harmonious and successful," Hu told reporters before leaving Nara.
Hu's visit was seen as a step towards improving bilateral ties between the two nations. The leaders agreed to regular dialogues to alleviate the strain marred by Japan's past invasion of China and pledged that the two Asian powers will not see each other as a threat.