• Kyodo

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Shinzo Abe will become the first Japanese prime minister to address Australia’s Parliament when he visits the country for this year’s APEC meeting in September.

Prime Minister John Howard told Parliament on Monday he extended the invitation to Abe on Thursday by telephone and Abe responded favorably.

“He is greatly honored at the invitation that has been extended,” Howard said.

Abe will go to Canberra from Sydney following the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meeting and make the address Sept. 11.

“It will be the first time that a Japanese prime minister has addressed Parliament. I think it is entirely appropriate,” Howard said.

Opposition leader Kevin Rudd said he supported Abe’s invitation to Parliament, describing it as a “great gesture.”

“It is a very important initiative, given the history of our two countries over a long period of time,” Rudd said.

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