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Ma pleased with growth of cultural exchanges between Taiwan, Japan

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday met with Japanese artists at the Presidential Office and said that he was pleased to see the increasing extent of cultural exchange between Taiwan and Japan.

Although public works can spur a nation's growth, it is culture that makes a nation great, Ma said, stressing that culture is the foundation of a country.

The president said that not long after he took office in 2008, Taiwan signed a working holiday agreement with Japan and also set up a representative office in Sapporo (札幌).

A bilateral air transport accord was also established for direct flights between Taipei International Airport (松山機場) and Tokyo's Haneda Airport (羽田機場), Ma said, adding that both governments have also inked an investment agreement.

The president pointed out that the Takarazuka Revue (寶塚歌劇團) will be performing in Taiwan in April, marking the renowned troupe's first performance on the island.

Ma said that he saw the group's performance during his visit to Fukuoka (福岡) in 2001, and that the experience left a memorable impression. The president went on to say that he looked forward to Takarazuka Revue's arrival in Taiwan.

Ma added that the government aims to show the National Palace Museum's treasures in Tokyo and Kyushu (九州) next year.

The administration has been pushing for closer Taiwan-Japan relations over the past few years, which it defines as a “special partnership,” Ma said, explaining that the relationship is “special” because the two sides have very close ties both trade- and tourism-wise despite not having official diplomatic relations.

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