A record 250-strong delegation of Japanese business and entrepreneurial heavyweights left Tokyo for Beijing on Monday, kicking off their annual China visit.
The delegation includes the heads of Japan's three business groups, namely Shoji Muneoka, president of the Japan-China Association on Economy and Trade, Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of the Japanese Business Federation, and Akio Mimura, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Belt and Road Initiative, which Japanese media said the country's companies are increasingly keen on, will be on the delegation's agenda.
The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China has set up a council to gather information on the initiative, which seeks to expand infrastructure networks from Asia through the Middle East to Europe and Africa, according to the Kyodo News.
At their meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' meeting in Vietnam on Nov 11, President Xi Jinping told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that China is willing to improve ties with Japan.
Xi said that mutually beneficial cooperation is the momentum to drive China-Japan ties forward, and the two sides should improve the level of pragmatic cooperation in the new situation.
Xi urged both sides to promote regional economic integration, and push for cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Jiang Zengwei, chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said as China is trans-forming its economic development model to a service and high-tech fueled one, companies from Japan certainly can participate in the country's ongoing industrial upgrading, especially in healthcare, automobile, industrial robots and energy-saving industries.
He encouraged companies from both sides to exchange views, and organize regular delegations to seek joint-investment opportunities in fast-growing industries.
A survey conducted by the Japanese government-affiliated Japan External Trade Organization in late 2016 found renewed interest in China investment among Japanese companies.
The survey showed that 40 percent of Japanese companies with operations in China planned to expand their operations here in the next one to two years, up 2 percentage points from a similar poll in 2015, and the first increase in three years.
The Japanese food industry is particularly enthusiastic about investing in China, with the 2016 survey showing that 54 percent of companies in that industry planning to expand their operations there.
JETRO's annual surveys showed that the percentage of Japanese companies willing to expand their operations in China had been on a declining trend since peaking at more than 60 percent in 2011.