Abe to kick off ‘rugby diplomacy’ with Pacific leaders
TOKYO — VIPs from countries participating in the upcoming Rugby World Cup are expected to visit Japan one after another as the international sports event kicks off on Sept. 20.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to hold summit talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and other leaders of South Pacific nations who will fly to Japan to support their teams.
According to a senior Foreign Ministry official, Ardern will attend the opening ceremony at Tokyo Stadium on Sept. 20 and watch the match against South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama on the following day. Abe will hold talks with Ardern on Sept. 19.
He is also expected to hold talks with Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.
Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, will be in Japan to attend the enthronement ceremony of the Emperor on Oct. 22, but if Wales advances to the finals, which start from Oct. 19, he may extend his stay to watch.
There is also a possibility that his sons Prince William and Prince Harry will visit Japan if any British teams — including England and Scotland — reach the finals. Queen Elizabeth’s daughter, Princess Anne, will also visit Japan to cheer on the Scottish team.
After attending the World Cup opening ceremony, Abe is expected to send his support to the Japanese team for the opening match against Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not expected to visit Japan during the event, but a Russian official at the deputy prime ministerial level is expected to come.
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