Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro emphasized the importance of the Diet’s role in protecting the “rights of the people” April 15 and called for cooperation to help resolve such global problems as war and poverty.

Addressing a Lower House plenary session, Scalfaro said Diet lawmakers, who represent the Japanese, should give consideration to those who are disadvantaged. “I hope that you will work to protect the rights of the people. I think that is the way toward stabilized peace in the world,” Scalfaro said in a speech in Italian, translated into Japanese. He also said that if Diet members lack such will and spirit, the laws that are made will not benefit the people.

Scalfaro said his visit, following a series of visits by Italian leaders, including Prime Minister Romano Prodi in October, demonstrates the friendly ties between Italy and Japan. He called for further strengthening of bilateral relations to tackle global issues, such as disarmament, environmental problems and the aging of society. “Italy and Japan share the same basic values, such as putting importance on freedom, democracy and basic human rights,” he said. “We both have become economic powers after the devastation of World War II. It is important to increase exchanges between both countries to tackle such global problems.”

Scalfaro will leave Tokyo today for a trip to western Japan, which will include stops in Kyoto and Hiroshima, before departing Japan on Sunday.

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