Fri, May 16, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Japanese group wants to invite former president

AFP , TOKYO

A Japanese civic group said yesterday it was considering inviting former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) to Japan in October.

The group that studies the work of Japanese educator Inazo Nitobe, who died in 1933, wants to invite Lee to the 70th anniversary of Nitobe's death in October, said Ichiro Nakagawa, staff at the Nitobe Center in Morioka, 470km north of Tokyo.

The group, Nitobe Inazo Kai, is associated with the center.

Lee, 80, recently published a book in Japan analyzing one of Nitobe's most celebrated works Bushido: the Soul of Japan.

"We want Lee Teng-hui to visit us here," said Nakagawa. "But we have not made our final decision yet."

Officials from Nitobe Inazo Kai helped revise Lee's book and met with Lee last month, when the former president, who speaks fluent Japanese, expressed a wish to visit places associated with Nitobe, Nakagawa said.

The Japanese foreign ministry said it will make a decision on whether to issue a visa to Lee, if he applies, after considering the international situation and various factors.

Lee withdrew his application for a visa for Japan last November after his scheduled speech in Tokyo was cancelled amid China's opposition to the trip.

In April 2001, Lee made a five-day visit to Japan for a medical check-up, prompting China to cancel visits to Japan by its high-ranking officials.

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