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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrived Wednesday in Tokyo and met with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi to explain a list of ambitious reforms he has planned for the oil-rich but poverty-stricken South American country.

During talks at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, Chavez went over his plans to reform Venezuela’s political, economic and social systems.

He has a long to-do list: promulgate a new constitution, streamline government institutions, fight poverty, promote agriculture and boost economic ties with other countries, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

Obuchi voiced support for Chavez’s reform plans but said his efforts, which some Venezuela watchers find alarming, should be based on democratic principles, and that Japanese investment in Venezuela may increase after a proper legal environment is created.

Chavez replied that reforms will be carried out democratically, stressing that the new constitution will be based on a national referendum, the official said.

The two leaders underlined the need to comprehensively strengthen their relationship. Venezuela is focusing on fostering Asian ties, while Japan wants to cooperate with Venezuela in energy development, the official said.

In August, Tokyo decided to add Venezuela to a list of countries that makes nongovernmental organizations eligible for grants-in-aid, although no specific amount of aid for Venezuelan NGOs has been decided.

In addition, the government is considering whether to dispatch a team of experts to Venezuela to help in the development of rural villages and the enhancement of medical care in remote areas.

The visit is Chavez’s first to Japan since he became president in February. It is part of a tour of Asia that also includes China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines.

Later in the day, Chavez was to meet with the Emperor. He is also scheduled to exchange views today with Japanese business leaders.

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