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As the geopolitical center of Europe has shifted eastward since the end of the Cold War, Berlin will play a greater role as an international base for regional markets, the mayor of Berlin said Oct. 7.Speaking at a symposium through Japanese translators in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward, Mayor Eberhard Diepgen said his city is situated at the center of the European network. Diepgen said a variety of services to support global corporations are available in the city, which has historical ties with eastern European countries and several geographical advantages.But the mayor, who is in Tokyo through Oct. 8, also admitted the city is still facing difficulty in integrating citizens from different backgrounds, such as those raised in communist societies and others from democratic ones. “I think mental aspects, rather than economic aspects, are a bigger factor (in integrating them),” he said.The mayor’s trip to Tokyo was meant to coincide with the Asia-Pacific Week of Berlin, which is observed from Sept. 15 through Oct. 16. The symposium, held at the Edo-Tokyo Museum, was backed by the municipal governments of Tokyo and Berlin.The reconstruction of Berlin, which was once divided into the Western and Eastern blocs, is now in full swing as it heads toward becoming the reunified country’s new capital. The transfer of all capital functions from Bonn is planned to be completed in fiscal 1999.Keizo Kimura, who served as Japan’s ambassador to both the former West and East Germany, said the capital change will significantly affect Germany and Europe, given the sharp contrast between the two cities. Kimura said he has an impression of Bonn as a pastoral city with many relatively old, privileged people.”(But) Berlin has many foreigners and jobless people. It’s a very rough and dynamic city,” he said. The new capital, with its rich nature and high culture, is also a very attractive city to live in, he said.

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