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Emperor meets with Chinese Premier Li in Tokyo

Emperor Akihito, left, speaks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, right, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, on May 10, 2018. (Pool photo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese Emperor Akihito met with visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, expressing his wish that relations of goodwill between their nations would further improve.

It is the first time the emperor has met with a Chinese premier since meeting with Wen Jiabao in June 2010.

Li said he hopes his visit this year -- marking the 40th anniversary of the signing of a friendship treaty -- would help develop bilateral ties into a "long-lasting and stable relationship," according to the Imperial Household Agency.

In response, the emperor said, "I hope our relations of goodwill and friendship will improve."

During their 20-minute meeting, Emperor Akihito thanked Li for China's move to donate a pair of crested ibis to Japan. "Although ibises were once extinct in Japan, I'm glad many are being bred again thanks to China's help."

The meeting came a day after Li attended a trilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae In in Tokyo's Akasaka Palace state guesthouse.

Emperor Akihito, who took the throne in 1989, visited China in October 1992 with Empress Michiko as the first emperor to do so.

The emperor also said he feels nostalgic, when recalling his first visit and the cordial welcome he had experienced.

Li told the emperor that the latter's interaction with the people in China has left an "impression" and is "symbolic" of the friendship between their countries.

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