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I n September 1609, when a Mexican sailboat ran ashore in a typhoon near the village of Onjuku in today’s Chiba Prefecture, local fishermen and ama (female divers) rescued 317 souls from the angry ocean. That was Japan’s first contact with Mexican people.

“I learned about that only recently,” said Mexico-based Japanese violinist Yuriko Kuronuma, organizer of a classical-music festival commemorating 400 years of Mexico-Japan relations that was sadly canceled Tuesday due to the escalating swine-flu outbreak in Mexico. Kuronuma spoke before the outbreak occurred.

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