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Thursday, Sep. 20, 2012

Noda, Emperor meet head of Russian church


Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has agreed with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to promote people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

Emperor Akihito also separately met with Patriarch Kirill on Tuesday. His visit to Tokyo was timed with the 100th anniversary of the death of Saint Nicholas, who introduced the Orthodox faith to Japan.

Noda told Patriarch Kirill that exchanges between ordinary citizens are "important" for strengthening ties between Japan and Russia.

In response, the Patriarch Kirill said that he will contribute to fostering "relations of mutual trust."

"It is now a good time to turn a new page" to further improve bilateral relations, Patriarch Kirill told reporters after meeting with the Emperor.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the visit by the head of the church to Japan was the first since 2000, when his predecessor visited.

During his trip, Patriarch Kirill, who arrived in Japan last Friday, met with votaries and visited Sendai, one of the cities hardest hit by last year's massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

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