Tokyo: “When I wrote the letter, I didn’t expect to receive a reply from President Xi Jinping. I was surprised and honored,” said Daichi Nakashima with excitement.
The 27-year-old Japanese man said he had received the reply from Xi before the Chinese leader attended the Group of 20 summit in Osaka. “When my friend told me on WeChat, I was shocked!” Nakashima said in an interview.
Nakashima had several times been a winner in the Panda Cup Japan Youth Essay Contest. Founded in 2014, the competition is co-sponsored by People’s China magazine, the Chinese embassy in Japan and the Japan Science Society, aiming to help Japanese youths have a more comprehensive, objective and rational understanding of China.
Nakashima began learning Chinese in college and has participated in several short-term exchange programs in China.
When talking about his original intention of writing a letter to Xi, Nakashima said, “I wanted to convey the warmth and friendship of the Chinese people I felt during my visit to China and the importance of mutual understanding and exchanges between Japanese and Chinese youths.”
Xi, in his reply, said he was glad to see that Nakashima has been studying the Chinese language and literature for a long time and, by participating in essay contests and exchange activities in China, has learned more about China and strengthened his bonds with Chinese friends.
“It’s the best affirmation and recognition of my persistence for so many years. I’m very touched,” Nakashima said.
Born in 1992, Nakashima first learned about China through classics like “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” and “Outlaws of the Marsh,” but it was a two-week trip to Tianjin in 2011 that gave him a glimpse of a vibrant China.
After that, he visited Beijing, Sichuan, Guangdong and other places. Last year, he went to Fudan University in Shanghai and studied for half a year.
Nakashima found that Chinese youth are very familiar with Japanese anime, music and so on, while Japanese youngsters do not know much about China. Their impression of China is restricted to Chinese tourists, “not knowing about Chinese movies and popular music,” he said.
Nakashima said he believes that the friendship between the two peoples needs more bilateral youth exchanges, as President Xi said in the letter.
Noting that China and Japan are close neighbors separated by only a narrow strip of water, Xi said the friendship between the two countries is rooted in the people, and that the future of the friendship between the two peoples is in the hands of the young people.
Xi said he hopes that the youth of China and Japan will strengthen exchanges and mutual learning, enhance mutual understanding, develop long-lasting friendships, and contribute to creating an even brighter future for bilateral relations.
Xi also encouraged Nakashima to continue to promote the China-Japan friendship. Nakashima said this is an encouragement, a mission and also motivation for him to move forward.
Nakashima graduated with a master’s degree in April and has begun to work in a publishing house. He has been determined to introduce excellent works such as Chinese picture books and science fiction to Japan, so that Japanese teenagers can feel the affinity between the two countries.
“I have met many friendly Chinese people and made many friends that are very important to me. In the future, I will continue to make efforts to help Japanese and Chinese youth deepen mutual understanding,” he said.