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President to hold talks with Japanese leaders today

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is due to meet Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Emperor Akihito here in Tokyo today.

President Rajapaksa will have a tight schedule on Monday, starting with an official meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura at the Imperial Hotel before heading to the Imperial Palace in the Akasaka area.

The historic meeting between President Rajapaksa and Emperor Akihito will be held at 11.40 a.m. local time (8.10 a.m. SL time). The Japanese Emperor will also host a special luncheon reception to the touring Presidential party at Imperial Palace.

The official Imperial Palace the Akasaka Palace, is in the Moto Akasaka area of the capital Tokyo. The guest house took on its present function in 1974, having previously been a detached palace.

Architect Katayama Tokuma designed the neo-Baroque structure as a residence for the Crown Prince.

Later on Monday evening, President Rajapaksa will meet Prime Minister Fukuda at the Prime Ministerís Office. After a special discussion on bilateral issues, they will issue a joint press statement. Prime Minister Fukuda will also host a special banquet in honour of the visiting Lankan President.

The Presidentís official visit would further strengthen Sri Lanka-Japan ties. Japan has made a significant contribution towards development activities in Sri Lanka in various sectors.

Sri Lanka has been the largest per capita recipient of Japanís bilateral aid. Along with economic co-operation, Japan has been providing cultural aid to Sri Lanka since 1979.

Japanese co-operation programmes with Sri Lanka commenced way back in 1954.

President Rajapaksa is the fourth Sri Lankan executive President to make a State visit to Japan after Presidents J. R. Jayewardene (1979), R. Premadasa (1985) and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (1996).

Sri Lankaís former Prime Ministers Sir John Kotelawala (1954), Dudley Senanayake (1967) and Sirimavo Bandaranaike (1976) too had made official visits to Japan.

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