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November 19, 2007

New Chinese Ambassador to Japan Meets SGI President

Mr. Ikeda (left) welcomes Chinese Ambassador Cui (right)

Mr. Ikeda (left) welcomes Chinese Ambassador Cui (right)

On November 19, 2007, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda welcomed newly appointed Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cui Tiankai and his entourage at the Seikyo Shimbun building in Shinanomachi, Tokyo. Their hour-long discussion covered the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Japan-China Peace and Friendship Treaty, their mutual hopes for further strengthening Sino-Japanese friendship and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai's (1898-1976) deep influence on the development of modern Chinese diplomacy.

A native of Zhejiang Province, Ambassador Cui, 55, worked in a farming village in Heilongjiang Province in northeastern China in his mid-teens to his early 20s during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). He is a graduate of East China Normal University in Shanghai, and holds a masters degree in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University in the USA. His diplomatic career includes service as an interpreter for the Chinese Secretariat at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, and later as counsellor within the Chinese Permanent Delegation at the UN. Among the posts he has held in the Chinese Foreign Ministry are director-general of the Department of Asian Affairs, director-general of the Policy Research Office, and assistant minister of foreign affairs. He assumed his current post as the tenth Chinese Ambassador to Japan in October of this year.

During their meeting, Ambassador Cui remarked that while a student he had read about Mr. Ikeda's meeting with Premier Zhou Enlai in the newspaper in December 1974 and that it had sparked his interest in Sino-Japanese relations. Mr. Cui lauded Mr. Ikeda's longstanding and tenacious efforts to normalize bilateral ties between their countries, beginning with his proposal in 1968 toward that end and his many meetings with respective Chinese leaders.

Mr. Ikeda referred to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's speech made to the Japanese Diet during his visit to Tokyo in April 2007. The premier had reflected on the 2,000-year history of exchanges between China and Japan and observed that China introduced Japan to rice farming, iron smelting, a writing system and Buddhism, as well as important knowledge in a wide range of fields such as law, warfare, music and astronomy. Mr. Ikeda expressed his ardent wish that the Japanese will always remember this historical truth and never again wage war against China.

Mr. Ikeda also recalled that during his dialogue with the renowned British historian Arnold J. Toynbee, the scholar had noted that Japan's historical development has been deeply influenced by Chinese civilization. Stating that civilizations that continue to seek new ideas will flourish, Mr. Ikeda warned that Japan must make efforts to nurture amicable relations with China if it is to keep from being shunned by the global community.

Mr. Ikeda and Ambassador Cui reflected on Premier Zhou's life. Mr. Ikeda characterized the statesman as a wise diplomat who could overcome differences of opinion and forge common ground, while Ambassador Cui described him as a role model for all Chinese diplomats. The SGI leader also remarked that Zhou loved people, valued his encounters with each person, made friends easily, was a good listener who could always add fresh insights to any conversation, and was a man whose very behavior could be considered as a textbook on diplomacy.

Ambassador Cui suggested that a Chinese axiom referring to the importance of having good intentions behind one's actions is worth applying to diplomatic relations between nations. Mr. Ikeda replied that from now on it is crucial that nations advance together in a spirit of mutual respect and support.

Accompanying Ambassador Cui were Minister-Counsellor Kong Xuanyou, Counsellor Sun Meijiao, First Secretary Xue Jian, Second Secretary Sun Yonggang, Third Secretary Li Guimeng and Secretary Zheng Sheping. Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada and Vice General Directors Hiromasa Ikeda and Koji Harada were also in attendance.

[Adapted from an article in the November 20, 2007, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]