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Japanese expat proud of Fukuda's visit
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Oka Kozo was elated when he heard that Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda was to visit the small, sacred city in which he works.

The 68-year-old teacher, who teaches Japanese at the Xintan College of Qufu Normal University and is one of only a handful of Japanese expatriates in the city, was even more delighted when he found out Fukuda will also visit a number of other places he once called home.

On Saturday, Fukuda will visit the major port city of Tianjin, where Kozo lived for seven years before moving to Qufu in September.

"I am so happy that as well as visiting Beijing, the prime minister will go to two other cities I have worked in," Kozo said.

"I think the prime minister will get a better understanding of China after he visits Tianjin, where he can see firsthand the modern development of China. And in Qufu he will see a great example of the country's traditions, culture and history," Kozo said.

The Japanese teacher said he first learned about Confucius in middle school, memorizing Analects such as, "Is it not a delight to have friends come from afar".

"Lots of Japanese people of my age are interested in Confucius and Confucianism," Kozo, who first visited Qufu in 1995, said.

"Qufu, and Shandong Province as a whole, is a place rich in history," he said, adding that he always enjoys going sightseeing at the weekend.

Many elements of Japanese culture originated from China, Kozo said.

Fukuda's trip to Qufu, the birthplace of China's culture, could help Japan recognize the contributions Chinese culture has made to the country's development and the positive role it can play in bilateral exchanges, the teacher said.

"At least Japan is sending out a message that it is willing to forge good relationships with its neighbors such as China and South Korea," he said.

(China Daily December 29, 2007)

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