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Japanese PM To Visit New Zealand

26 April 2002

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today that the Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi, will visit New Zealand on 2-3 May.

“Our relationship with Japan, New Zealand’s third largest trading partner, is among the most important we have with any country, and this visit is an opportunity to further strengthen our ties,” Helen Clark said.

“Japan is a world economic powerhouse and a dominant player in the Asia/Pacific region. I was encouraged by Mr Koizumi’s call earlier this year for an East Asian Community embracing Australia and New Zealand.

“I look forward to learning more about his thinking on this subject, and how New Zealand might contribute,” Helen Clark said.

The visit follows Helen Clark’s visit to Japan last April, when leaders agreed to develop a new level of engagement in the New Zealand/Japan relationship.

Since then business people and officials have been exploring opportunities for growth, focusing on five sector areas - tourism, forestry, education, the new economy, and people-to-people links. Helen Clark said Mr Koizumi’s visit would add momentum to the work underway in those key areas.

“As well as trade there is also a long history of cultural, educational, tourism and other exchanges between our peoples. The visit will provide the opportunity to discuss the full range of issues of interest to both countries,” Helen Clark said.

The last Japanese Prime Minister to visit New Zealand was Keizo Obuchi, who attended the APEC leaders’ meeting in Auckland in September 1999.

Ends

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