Former Japanese PM donates large number of books to Chinese library

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An exhibited Chinese book printed during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). [Photo by Wang Kaihao/China Daily]

Few in China know that former Japanese prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa is an enthusiast of traditional Chinese culture, particularly poetry from the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Hosokawa, who nows heads Eisei Bunko, a Tokyo-based private archive and museum, was in Beijing for the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between China and Japan on Tuesday, when he also donated 4,175 copies of ancient books in the Chinese language from his own collection to the National Library of China.

Eisei Bunko houses more than 100,000 artworks and literary files since the 14th century.

"Cao Pi (a Chinese emperor who founded the Wei Dynasty in 220 AD) had said that literary works are crucial to run a country and build prosperity," Hosokawa, 80, said at the ceremony.

"The books are evidence of the communication between the two countries in ancient time."

Hosokawa, who was prime minister from 1993 to 1994, tried to mend ties with China and other Asian neighbors by acknowledging that Japan had waged a war of aggression during World War II.

Now, he would like to contribute more toward Sino-Japanese relations, he says.

Hosokawa reveals that many of the books he donated were collected by his grandfather and father.

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