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PM's Japanese Fellow visiting New Zealand

22 Jun 2004

PM's Japanese Fellow visiting New Zealand

Rising Japanese politician Taro Kono is visiting New Zealand as the Prime Minister's Japanese Fellow for 2004

Rising Japanese politician Taro Kono is visiting New Zealand as the Prime Minister's Japanese Fellow for 2004, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

Mr Kono, 41, is a Member of the Japanese House of Representatives (the Diet) and Director of the Foreign Affairs Committee. He will meet the Prime Minister, Ministers and other MPs during his five-day visit here, Mr Goff said.

"The Prime Minister's Fellow programme was established in 1990 to promote greater interest in New Zealand and New Zealanders among Japan's political establishment. The programme has targeted up and coming Diet members, and has successfully developed a network of influential Japanese politicians with New Zealand experience.

"Our Embassy in Japan keeps in touch with former Fellows, many of whom have worked their way up through their party ranks. The success of the Japanese programme has also led to Fellowships being established in Korea and Latin America," Mr Goff said.

Mr Kono, 41, was first elected to the Diet in 1996 for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. He is from an established political family, and his father, Yohei Kono, is Speaker of the Diet and a former Foreign Minister.

"Mr Kono represents a new generation of Japanese politicians who have studied and lived abroad. He advocates a stronger international profile for Japan, befitting the country's economic strength," Mr Goff said.

Among the subjects the Prime Minister and other Ministers will discuss with Mr Kono will be New Zealand's relationship with Japan, the situation in Iraq, North Korea and Afghanistan, and recent developments in the Pacific.

ENDS

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