• Kyodo

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China has extended condolences over the death of former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Koichi Kato, saying he made great contributions to the development of relations between the two nations.

“Mr. Koichi Kato was not only a renowned politician in Japan, but also an old friend of the Chinese people,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing Monday. “China deeply mourns his passing.”

She said Kato, who passed away last Friday, dedicated himself to promoting the friendship and the development of ties between Japan and China.

A one-time prime ministerial hopeful, Kato was known as a pro-China figure within the conservative political party now led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Until last year Kato headed the Japan-China Friendship Association.

He died of pneumonia in a Tokyo hospital at the age of 77.

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