Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ambassador: Olympic torch relay to strengthen China-Japan friendship

The upcoming Olympic torch relay in the Japanese city of Nagano will further expand the traditional friendship between the Chinese and Japanese people, Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai said on Tuesday.

In an interview with Xinhua and other Chinese media, Cui said the torch relay would provide a fresh opportunity to further enhance the amicable sentiment between the two peoples.

Describing Japan as one of the most important neighbors of China and a country sharing long-lasting, extensive and profound cultural and historical links with China, Cui said the torch relay is to exhibit Chinese people's expectation and passion for the Olympic Games.

People in Nagano and throughout Japan are standing with the Olympic spirits as Japan is the first Asian country to host the Olympic Games and Nagano was the host of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Cui said, adding that local Japanese people's ardor and fervor for the torch has been witnessed.

"As the Olympic torch embodies the Olympic spirits and is a symbol of peace, friendship and progress, we will be pleased to see the union of people around the globe under the light of the flame, transcending differences between states, races and ideologies, for gorgeous pictures and harmonious melodies of the earth," Cui added.

Concerning the preparation for the torch relay, Cui spoke highly of the tangible and fruitful efforts made by the Japanese Olympic Committee and the Nagano municipal government.

The ambassador especially thanked Japanese high-level government officials, including Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, for their repeated pledges for safety and support for the torch relay, as well as the Japanese parliament for establishing a union, headed by Lower House Speaker Yohei Kono, to provide material and spiritual support for the event.

A lot of Japanese celebrities from all circles, including athletes, singers and comedians, have actively applied to be torch bearers, Cui said, adding that the Chinese people were inspired by their enthusiasm.

The ambassador also expressed his extraordinary honor and proud of being one of the three Chinese torch bearers in the Japanese stop.

"I fully understand the significance of the torch and will take every step wholeheartedly. I am to properly fulfill my mission and contribute to the success of the entire torch relay," Cui said.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Chinese students in Japan collect signatures supporting Beijing Olympics

Hundreds of Chinese students in Japan signed their names on three flags on Saturday to extend their support for the Beijing Olympic Games.
The campaign, initiated by the Chinese Students in Japan Friendship Association, plans to collect over 10,000 signatures of Chinese students and scholars in Japan.
At the opening ceremony of the campaign held in the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, the Chinese students set up banners promoting Olympic spirits and the Beijing Olympics slogans such as "One World, One Dream."
"Through the campaign, we want to spread the Olympic spirits and the notion of peace, and to call on the people who support the Beijing Olympics to join together," said Zhang Bi, secretary general of the Chinese Students Association in Japan.
"We also want to tell Japanese students that the Olympic Games is not only for China, but the whole world and the entire humankind," Zhang told Xinhua.
During the Olympic torch relay in Japan's Nagano city on April 26, the three flags, with the color of red, yellow and blue respectively, will be extended to spectators for their signatures.
The flags will then be presented to the Organizing Committee of the Beijing Olympic Games, said Li Guangzhe, chairman of the association.


Friday, April 18, 2008

China hopes Japan understands importance of aiding Olympic torch escort’s work

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Thursday China hoped “relevant country” would understand and aid the work of the Beijing Olympic torch escort.
Jiang made the remarks when asked to comment on Japan’s refusal of the torch escort from China in the relay in Nagano, on April 26.
She told a press conference that the convention of arranging the escort in the relay has been approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
She said the escorts, all volunteers, protected the torch with their bodies from the seizure by “Tibetan independence” supporters.
“This kind of spirit should be praised and understood, while the mob which disrupts should receive universal condemnation,” she said, adding China hoped “relevant country” would have a clear understanding of the task and provide active coordination and assistance for the relay.
Jiang praised the torch relay in Pakistan, saying China noticed that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani have both attended the ceremonies of the torch relay which was a great success in Islamabad.
“Through the relay, we have seen the colorful culture of Pakistan and the great enthusiasm of the Pakistani people toward the Olympics,” said Jiang.
On the torch relay in India, scheduled for Thursday, Jiang said the Indian people hoped to use the opportunity to show India’s ancient culture and modern development achievements, and China believed the Indian government would take effective measures to ensure a smooth and safe torch relay in New Delhi.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Germany book Beijing hockey spot with Japan win

TOKYO - World champions Germany secured the final spot in this year's Beijing Olympics men's hockey tournament after overpowering hosts Japan 4-0 on Sunday.
The world's top-ranked side won all six of their matches in the final Olympic qualifying tournament in Gifu, scoring 34 goals without conceding one.
Christopher Zeller scored twice for the Germans, who had defeated Japan by the same scoreline in midweek. They also racked up an 8-0 win over Italy and pummelled Switzerland 10-0.
Japan, bidding to reach their first Olympic tournament since the 1968 Mexico Games, had their chances but were guilty of poor finishing, in contrast to the clinical Germans.
Florian Keller smashed in Germany's opening goal after 15 minutes before Zeller doubled their lead moments into the second half.
Zeller added another goal in the 47th minute and Sebastian Draguhn completed a comfortable victory for Germany with a smart finish two minutes from time.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Japan’s ’silver shadow’ defies age barrier

Rising at the crack of dawn and crunching 50 sit-ups before breakfast, record-breaking Japanese Olympian Hiroshi Hoketsu bristles when asked about his age.
But the equestrian rider, who at the age of 67 will become Japan's oldest Olympic representative at the Beijing Games in August, has grudgingly begun to accept his new-found fame.
"Initially I was a little reluctant about having my age splashed across the news," Hoketsu told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.
"I didn't see why my age should be such a big thing. It wasn't relevant. I wasn't selected for the Olympics because I'm 67."
Hoketsu last took part in an Olympics 44 years ago at the 1964 Tokyo Games, finishing 40th in the show jumping competition.
He switched to the less physically demanding dressage in his mid-30s and was selected for Japan's team for the Seoul Olympics 20 years ago.
"I didn't take part in Seoul because there were quarantine problems with my horse," said the German-based Hoketsu. "It's not like I disappeared for 44 years.
"At the Tokyo Olympics I was still a kid -- I was 22 years old and in a dream world. Just being selected was my biggest goal then. Taking part was a bit of a fluke."
Hoketsu is set to eclipse the previous record age for a Japanese Olympian set by fellow equestrian Kikuko Inoue, who was 63 when she rode at the Seoul Games in 1988.
The oldest Olympian was Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who bagged his sixth Olympic medal at the 1920 Antwerp Games at the grand age of 72 years and 280 days.

"I was back in Germany when the Japanese media started kicking up a fuss about me so I hadn't experienced the storm first hand until now," said Hoketsu.
"It's not as if I'm going to win a medal at the Olympics so obviously the reason for the interest is my age. I'm beginning to feel my age with all the fuss but I want to show that I'm actually getting better as I get older."
Hoketsu insists he has no secret formula for appearing to have defied the ageing process, beyond waking up before sunrise and riding his horse across dew-wet fields.
"I haven't smoked for 30 years but I used to smoke and drink so it's not like I'm that stoic," he smiled. "I always woke up at 5 a.m. and go for a ride before going to the office.
"After I retired, my wife let me go to Germany. Before the Athens Olympics in 2004 I went over to look for a horse and began thinking about trying to make an Olympic comeback."
Hoketsu found his current horse 'Whisper' in Germany and settled in the city of Aachen, along the country's border with Belgium and the Netherlands.
"I thought about quitting and coming back to Japan many times," he said. "But I'm stubborn. I have improved technically, not just experience-wise, and feel I can get even better."

Hoketsu admitted the stifling humidity forecast for the Olympic period, as well as fears over equine influenza and bird flu, will prove a major test for both horse and rider.
"Hong Kong will more than likely be more humid than a Japanese summer -- maybe 80 percent humidity and over 30 degrees celsius, which is stressful for the horse," he said.
"We've been told the stables will be air-conditioned but we'll have to take care not to over-work the horse in practice, in order to keep her fresh."
Hoketsu is adamant he will not ride off into the sunset post-Beijing.
"In dressage my age is a plus," he said. "I have experience but I'm also in the best form of my life. I don't know if this is my big chance or my last chance.
"But I started riding when I was 12 and if anything I'm more passionate about it than ever."


Saturday, April 05, 2008

21 cinemas to screen documentary 'Yasukuni'

Twenty-one movie theaters across Japan including Tokyo plan to screen a documentary film on the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in May or later, a company distributing the film said Friday. However, an official of Argo Pictures said it is not able to announce a detailed schedule or the names of cinemas that have decided to hold screenings because the cinemas do not want to suffer further harassment or pressure from groups opposed to the film.

Ten theaters including Cinema Taurus in Tomakomai, Hokkaido, Kyoto Cinema in Kyoto, Cinewind in Niigata and Salon Cinema in Hiroshima have already declared that they will screen the documentary. A theater in Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture, has joined the list of cinemas willing to screen the controversial documentary. Each of the movie theaters has received inquiries about screening dates for the film, ‘‘Yasukuni,’’ by Chinese director Li Ying.