Japan is ready to cooperate closely with Gerhard Schroeder, whose Social Democrats won Germany’s general election Sunday, to deepen bilateral relations, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi said Monday.

Obuchi praised defeated German Chancellor Helmut Kohl “for his historic accomplishments, such as the unification of the two Germanys, and the promotion of Europe’s integration.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka on Monday also called for further development of relations with Germany under Schroeder’s leadership. “I expect a smooth launch of the new government under Chancellor Schroeder, and we would like to see further development of our ties with Germany under the new government,” Nonaka told a news conference. “And I do hope and expect that Germany’s policy toward Japan will remain unchanged from that under the current government.”

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