Wen Jiabao

Wen lays on the charm in Tokyo park

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 April, 2007, 12:00am

Muscle-flexing and a charm offensive seldom mix, but Premier Wen Jiabao seems to have discovered the secret formula in his attempts to woo the Japanese public during his 'ice-breaking' trip.

Despite a hectic schedule, Mr Wen, 64, rose early yesterday for a jog - a routine he has followed everywhere since taking office in 2003.

But this time, central government authorities arranged for reporters to follow the premier. In front of the cameras, Mr Wen jogged in a Tokyo park near his hotel, stopping to greet residents. Soft-spoken and with a ready smile, he showed his enthusiasm for energetic activity and even practised tai chi with a few Japanese who visited the park for exercise.

'Are you happy to see Sino-Japanese relations improving,' he asked one woman. 'This is the result of our joint effort.'

The premier continued the charm offensive later, delivering a historic speech in the Japanese parliament, and meeting a cross-section of business leaders and representatives.

The poetry-loving Mr Wen also tried his hand at ancient Japanese verse, showing a poem he wrote to guests attending a luncheon. Part of it read:

'Under the cherry blossom friends meet; just as early spring banishes winter.'

Mr Wen's visit, one of the first for a Chinese leader in seven years, marks a thaw in ties between the two sides. He also attended a cultural and sports exchange programme last night, and will fly to the ancient capital of Kyoto today.