President Hu Jintao yesterday called for closer ties with Japan as he arrived on the first visit by a Chinese head of state to Japan in a decade. And in a private dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda last night, Mr Hu offered to lend two pandas to Japan as a friendly gesture ahead of his summit meeting with Mr Fukuda today. Each leader briefed the other on his country's economic and social development, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said. 'They were satisfied with the two countries' economic co-operation and agreed to continue to boost the co-operation,' Mr Liu said. 'They also talked about the Beijing Olympics. Mr Fukuda toasted several times for a successful Beijing Olympics. He also wished the Shanghai World Expo would be a success.' But the Tibet issue was not raised during the dinner, Mr Liu said. He said Mr Hu and Mr Fukuda would be discussing a wide range of issues including political exchanges, economic co-operation, environmental protection, people exchange, regional and international issues at their meeting today. Earlier in the day, Mr Hu was greeted at the airport by senior Japanese officials and flag-waving Chinese supporters. But in Tokyo's city centre, hundreds of pro-Tibet and right-wing Japanese protesters chanted 'Hu Jintao you leave' and waved Tibetan flags in protest at the visit. Calling his five-day visit a 'warm spring' trip, Mr Hu said he hoped to cement a 'mutually beneficial strategic partnership' with Japan as bilateral relations were finally warming up. 'China and Japan are both important countries in Asia and the world. It is in the fundamental interests of the two countries and their people for China and Japan to develop a long-term, stable and friendly neighbour relationship,' he said. 'I hope that this trip can enhance mutual trust, strengthen friendship, deepen co-operation and plan for the future.' China has replaced the US as Japan's largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth US$236.6 billion, up 12 per cent from 2006. This is Mr Hu's first overseas trip since anti-government riots broke out in Tibet. It is also the first trip to Japan by a Chinese president since Jiang Zemin visited in 1998. The visit marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the China-Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty. A fourth joint document that would elevate bilateral relations is expected to be secured during this trip. Mr Hu will visit the prime minister's alma mater, Waseda University, tomorrow, where more protests are expected, especially when he meets students. At the end of last month, pro-Tibet activists and Japanese nationalists clashed with Chinese supporters when the Olympic torch passed through Nagano.