Noda to lobby China for Sendai panda deal

Discussion in 'China' started by cir, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. cir

    cir Senior Member Senior Member

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    Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011
    Kyodo

    China is likely to agree to leasing giant pandas to a zoo in Sendai to help cheer up children in the disaster-hit northeast, government sources said Thursday.

    In a meeting with officials of the city and Yagiyama Zoological Park, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda promised that he will take up the matter and reach an agreement with Beijing during his trip to China starting Sunday.

    Noda plans to hold separate talks with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

    The government hopes the agreement will serve as a symbol of friendship between the two nations, which next year will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties, the sources said.

    "We want (the pandas) to heal the pain that children experienced and serve as a light of hope for them," Sendai Vice Mayor Sendai Yukimoto Ito said after the meeting at the prime minister's office.

    Ito was accompanied by singer Masahiko Kondo and actress Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, who presented Noda with signatures from children who hope to see the pandas.

    Kondo said afterward that reconstruction funds set up at the initiative of his talent agency, Johnny & Associates, will cover the cost of leasing the pandas.

    The idea of leasing the pandas originated from news reports about a heartwarming correspondence between Wen and a girl he met during his visit to the Tohoku region in late May. The girl reportedly wrote a letter to the Chinese leader and said she loves pandas.

    China gave a pair of pandas to Tokyo's Ueno Zoo as part of its "panda diplomacy" begun in 1972 to commemorate the normalization of bilateral relations.

    In 2000, it leased a pair to a Kobe zoo at the request of the local government in the hope of aiding the area's reconstruction after the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake devastated the port city.

    Noda to lobby China for Sendai panda deal | The Japan Times Online
     
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