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A Mexican Navy training ship will call at four Japanese ports later this month to celebrate the 400th anniversary of friendship between the two countries, Mexican Ambassador to Japan Miguel Ruiz-Cabanas Izquierdo said, shrugging off concerns about the global flu epidemic that may have originated in his country.

The Cuauhtemoc left the port of Acapulco on Feb. 15 and will call at Osaka, Yokohama, Tokyo and Onjuku, Chiba Prefecture, where 317 passengers from a wrecked Mexican vessel were rescued by local fishermen in September 1609.

The Cuauhtemoc, with 272 crew members aboard, will arrive at Osaka on May 25 and remain at Onjuku from June 12 to 13 for a welcoming ceremony. The cadets will visit historical sites in the town related to the shipwreck 400 years ago, said Onjuku Mayor Yoshihiro Ishida, who met the press Thursday with the ambassador.

While the new H1N1 influenza is suspected of having originated in Mexico or the southwest United States, the ambassador said none of the Cuauhtemoc crew has the new flu and no problems were found during the ship’s previous port calls in Shanghai and Qingdao in China.

“The visit to Japan by the Cuauhtemoc has nothing to do with the new influenza. The flu is a threat to the world’s health, but it is controllable,” Ruiz-Cabanas said in Spanish.

The ambassador added that a music festival planned for early May in Chiba and Tokyo to mark four centuries of bilateral friendship will be postponed, possibly to early July, due to the flu outbreak.

In September 1609, a vessel carrying Gov. General of the Philippines Rodrigo de Vivero was shipwrecked off what is today Onjuku en route to Nueva Espana, the name of a Spanish colony that later gained independence as Mexico.

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