• Kyodo

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Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez delivered a congratulatory address Friday to ethnic Japanese marking the 50th anniversary of their emigration.

The emigrants are “the symbol” of the bilateral friendship, Fernandez said at an anniversary event in Santo Domingo attended by some 30 emigrants as well as Hidehisa Otsuji, a former minister of health, labor and welfare.

Responding to the president’s remarks, Toru Takegama, head of a Japanese emigrants’ association, said he will continue contributing to the development of Dominican society.

Otsuji, a special envoy of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, showed consideration for the hardships that the Japanese went through, saying, “It is inexpressible how life has been difficult for the emigrants.”

The ceremony was held after Koizumi issued an official apology earlier this month for the government-led emigration program they participated in during the 1950s.

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