• Kyodo

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Visiting Chinese legislator Li Peng on Saturday suggested that he is optimistic about the future of Japan-China relations and emphasized the importance of long-term bilateral exchanges.

Li, chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, expressed his views in an exclusive interview with the Kitanippon Press, a member of the Kyodo news organization based in Toyama Prefecture.

Li said the two nations may encounter difficulties on the path to closer ties because they are so different, but added that he believes they should be able to overcome any obstacles.

“Even in such cases, the two nations can solve any problems with effort and foresight,” said Li, adding that it is important for the two nations to continue exchanges over the longer term.

“We need to expand exchanges such as the one between Toyama Prefecture and China’s Liaoning Province to economic, cultural and educational fields,” he said. “They will eventually lead to the development of bilateral relations as a whole.”

Li honors lawmaker

TOYAMA (Kyodo) Li Peng, the senior Chinese legislator presently visiting Japan, met Saturday with six relatives of the late Kenzo Matsumura, a Japanese lawmaker who helped pave the way for the normalization of ties between Japan and China in 1972.

Visiting the town of Fukumitsu in Toyama Prefecture in the morning, Li met with the six, including Matsumura’s second daughter, Haruko Kobori, 86, at a memorial hall for the late politician.

Some 200 townspeople were on hand to welcome Li, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, and his wife.

Kobori expressed pleasure at being able to greet the pair in her father’s home town, saying, “I think my father would have been happy, also.”

Matsumura, a former House of Representatives member from Fukumitsu, visited China five times between 1959 and 1971. He negotiated with Chinese leaders such as then Premier Zhou Enlai.

Matsumura died in 1971 at age 88. Zhou sent a message of condolence to mark Matsumura’s contributions to promoting bilateral ties.

Serving as a House of Representatives member since before World War II, Matsumura also held Cabinet posts such as agriculture minister and minister of education.

His efforts led to the resumption of bilateral trade and exchanges of news reporters, which subsequently cleared the way for the normalization of ties under the Cabinet of the late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka.

Li, who lost his parents in unrest in China during his childhood, was brought up as the adopted child of Zhou and his wife. Kobori met Zhou when she visited China with her father.

Li arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday at the invitation of House of Representatives Speaker Tamisuke Watanuki and House of Councilors President Yutaka Inoue.

He is to visit Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures and return to China from Kagoshima on Tuesday.

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