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It is interesting to see that Japanese citizens and not just politicians and government officials are discussing the nation’s roles in the world as the 21st century approaches, the Greek ambassador said Wednesday.

Elias Katsareas, who took over the Tokyo post last August, said during his visit to The Japan Times that Japan can play greater, stabilizing roles for world peace and security.

In view of this, and of Japan’s huge official development assistance and contributions to international organizations, including the United Nations, he noted that Greece has already expressed its support for Japan to become a permanent U.N. Security Council member.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of opening relations with Japan with the signing of the treaty of trade, amity and navigation on June 1, 1899, the ambassador said. Various events are planned in both countries to celebrate the occasion, with one feature program being a Greek National Theater troupe’s visit to Japan in June for a performance.

Katsareas, a career diplomat of 32 years, said Greece, which could not make the criteria for joining the first group of European Union member countries to adopt the euro, is trying to improve its economic conditions to meet the criteria and join the unified currency in 2001. Ninety percent of Greeks support joining the euro and the government’s economic policies necessary to meet the criteria, he said.

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