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Japan says Chinese Premier Wen to visit in April
2007-03-27 00:18:38 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

TOKYO, March 27 (AP) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will visit Tokyo in April for a summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan's top government spokesman said Tuesday.

Wen may also make a speech at Parliament during his April 11-13 visit, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said.

The visit will be the first by a Chinese premier in seven years, underscoring the long chill in relations under former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Koizumi angered China with his repeated visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which honors the country's war dead, including executed war criminals.

Ties have improved since Abe took office last September and chose China for his first trip abroad.

"It is extremely meaningful to deepen discussions on the establishment of our mutually strategic relationship," Shiozaki told a regular news conference.

But Wen's visit also comes at a sensitive time. Abe sparked protests in Asia and in the U.S. earlier this month by saying there is no evidence Asian women were forced into sexual slavery by Japan's military. Historians say as many as 200,000 women, including many from Korea and China, worked in Japanese military brothels across Asia in the 1930s and '40s.

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