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Japan Names Good-will Ambassadors of Japan-China Culture, Sports Exchange Year
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Famous Japanese table tennis player Ai Fukuhara and pop star Noriko Sakai on Thursday were named good-will ambassadors of the 2007 Japan-China Culture and Sports Exchange Year.



Fukuhara and Sakai will take part in almost all of important activities of the exchange year, which aims to enhance understanding between Japanese and Chinese people, especially the youth of the two countries, and to boost bilateral exchanges, said officials from the Japanese executive committee of the exchange year.


Under the theme "bringing forth a new image of Japan and the Japanese people to the new Chinese generation," Fukuhara and Sakai were selected because of their image and popularity in China, the committee said.


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met the two good-will ambassadors in his official residence earlier in the day, encouraging them to work to fulfill their honorable mission.


He said that he is also willing to work with the two to boost bilateral exchanges between Japan and China.


Sakai has been popular in China and other Asian countries since late 1990s. She distributed her music CDs, hosted personal concerts and has featured in quite a few TV advertisements in China. According to a survey in 2006, Sakai tops the list of Chinese people's most favorite Japanese female stars.


Fukuhara, fluent in Chinese, has been receiving professional training in China since her kindergarten years. In 2005, she became the first foreigner to play China's domestic table tennis tournament and was also selected "one of the eight world table tennis beauties" by an influential Chinese website.


(Xinhua News Agency April 6, 2007)

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