China's president has told Japanese university students their two countries should look to the future and not hold a grudge over World War II. The comments were in stark contrast to those made by the last Chinese president to visit Japan, who lectured lawmakers on the damage caused by Japan's aggression. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

Chinese President Hu Jintao had friendly words Thursday for Japanese students at Tokyo's Waseda University.

On the third day of his first state visit to Japan, Mr. Hu said China and Japan should work together as partners and not as rivals.

He raised the issue of Japan's World War II invasion and occupation of parts of China. But, unlike the last Chinese president to visit Japan, Mr. Hu said the two sides should not dwell on the past aggression.

He noted the unfortunate history caused tremendous harm to the Chinese people but he said it also harmed Japanese people.

He says in stressing the importance of remembering history, it does not mean they should continue hostilities. He says they should use history as a mirror, look to the future, treasure peace, and maintain peace.

Mr. Hu's visit to Japan is only the second by a Chinese president since the two Asian nations established diplomatic relations more than 30 years ago.

The last one in 1998 by then President Jiang Zemin was marked by tension and bitterness. Mr. Jiang lectured Japanese officials after he did not receive an expected official apology for Japan's war-time atrocities.

Relations suffered further under Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, who made annual visits to a shrine honoring convicted war criminals.

In 2005 thousands of Chinese marched in Beijing in protest against Japan's perceived white-washing of history.

Relations have improved dramatically since Japanese prime ministers stopped visiting the controversial war shrine. Both sides have made diplomatic efforts and trade has flourished.

But, during Mr. Hu's visit some tensions have surfaced over China's heavy-handed rule of Tibet and a dispute over poisoned dumpling imports.

During his speech, tens of student protesters gathered outside the venue shouting slogans and holding signs criticizing China.