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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mexican ambassador praises aid, asks public to stay calm


Staff writer

Amid growing concern about the new influenza virus first seen in Mexico, Mexican Ambassador to Japan Miguel Ruiz-Cabanas urged Japan and other nations Friday not to overreact to the situation.

News photo
Center of attention: A spokesman for Yokohama Municipal Citizen's Hospital is surrounded by reporters Friday after a high school boy from Yokohama returned from Canada and tested positive in a preliminary A-type flu test. KYODO PHOTO

"What I would like to ask Japanese people is to look at the situation objectively and not to react more than that fact," Ruiz-Cabanas told reporters at the Mexican Embassy in Tokyo.

"The situation itself, of course, has serious aspects, but it is important to recognize that the situation can be handled," he said.

This year marks the 400th year of relations between Japan and Mexico, which began when Gov. General of the Philippines Rodrigo de Vivero met shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu after being shipwrecked off the coast of what is now Onjuku, Chiba Prefecture.

But the current state of affairs over the new type of flu led to the postponement of various cultural events that were to be held in Japan to celebrate the occasion.

The envoy said they will be held when things improve.

Meanwhile, Ruiz-Cabanas expressed appreciation to Japan for its decision to send emergency supplies to Mexico. He also thanked farm minister Shigeru Ishiba for repeatedly reminding the public that it is safe to eat imported pork from Mexico.

At the same time, Ruiz-Cabanas said he is working with the Japanese government to reverse its decision to cancel visa exemptions for Mexicans entering Japan, noting the measure will hurt tourism and trade between the two nations.

The ambassador stressed the importance of international cooperation to solve the situation, adding that isolating a certain country will not help improve the situation, which is in line with the advice given by the World Health Organization.

Members of the European Union are reportedly considering stopping flights to Mexico.

But Ruiz-Cabanas said such acts shouldn't be taken since they will only create undue fear.



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