A Japanese museum headed by former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa on Tuesday donated to the National Library of China a total of 4,175 ancient Chinese books handed down through his family for generations.

The donation by Tokyo-based Eisei Bunko Museum, which has been managing cultural assets long held by the Hosokawa samurai clan in today's Kumamoto Prefecture, came as the two Asian countries celebrate this year the 40th anniversary of the two countries' treaty of friendship and peace.

At a ceremony in Beijing, Hosokawa said he wishes Japan's relations with China will continue to move forward in a positive direction.

"I would be happy if they would help research," Hosokawa said. "I am certain that they would contribute to China's long history."

The books donated include a replica of Shangshu zhengyi, published in China during the Song period and brought to Japan during the Kamakura period, which lasted about 150 years until 1333.

(Hosokawa visits the National Museum of Classic Books in Beijing.)

The replica was created by the Hosokawa family during the Edo period between 1603 and 1868, according to Satoshi Takahashi, a Keio University professor, who accompanied the former prime minister.

A copy of the original Shangshu zhengyi, designated as a Japanese national treasure, is kept at the Ashikaga School, the oldest academic institution in Japan, in Tochigi Prefecture.

Takahashi said there is no original of the book available in China and the replica has high academic value.

Luo Shugang, Chinese culture minister, thanked the Japanese museum for donating the classics.

"China-Japan cultural exchanges have played an indispensable role in the process of developing bilateral relations," Luo said.

A special exhibition introducing the books will be held at a museum next to the national library for a month, and their contents are scheduled to be made available online afterward.

(Hosokawa, left, holds talks with Luo Shugang.)