Baseball diplomacy is back as Premier Wen Jiabao prepares to visit Japan later this week. Wen wrote a thank-you letter this month to students of Sophia University in Tokyo, with whom he played baseball last May when he visited the campus, according to yesterday's People's Daily. 'Dear students of Sophia University, I'm very happy to receive your finely designed letter filled with emotion. Your unpretentious language, and smiling faces in the photos, have brought back happy memories from our baseball game together,' Wen wrote in the letter dated May 5, on which he also attached a photo of himself and the students in baseball team uniforms. Wen is due to attend an annual summit with leaders of Japan and South Korea this weekend, but he announced last week that he would also like to visit quake-hit Fukushima prefecture. The visit is the first by a Chinese leader since Sino-Japanese ties hit a low point following Japan's arrest of the captain of a mainland trawler when it clashed with Japanese patrol boats near the disputed Diaoyu Islands in September. Wen's letter was a response to the students' letter, which was handwritten with a thought by each student. 'I hope China and Japan can become closer through the sport of baseball,' one of the players said. This is not the first time Wen has turned to baseball to foster Sino-Japanese relations. In April 2007, during the 'ice-melting trip' - the first visit by a Chinese premier to Japan in seven years - Wen hit a diplomatic home run when he practised pitching and batting with students at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. He was nicknamed 'Player No35' due to the shirt he wore, which also signified the 35th anniversary of Sino-Japanese relations. Later in the year, when then prime minister Yasuo Fukuda returned the visit, the two leaders also threw and caught some baseballs in Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. The game lasted only five minutes - as Fukuda was 71 and Wen 65 at the time - but the two in baseball uniforms were a photo highlight of the trip and is an often-cited moment of friendliness in the rocky relationship. Current Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is keen to use this weekend's summit to convince the world it is back on its feet after the quake-tsunami.