Ethiopian Ambassador Markos Tekle Rike, 34, says he has always felt a special connection between his country and Japan, although he did not have any personal interest in this country before he arrived here 2½ years ago.

Japanese products and ways of thinking, he says, were very popular in Ethiopia when he was growing up.

"Toyota cars were very popular in Ethiopia from the 1980s until quite recently. About 10 years ago, almost 85 percent of all cars were Toyota. Japanese culture and philosophy had also been introduced into Ethiopia," he said.