Premier enjoys morning run at park in Tokyo

By Zhang Jin (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-06-01 07:45
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Tokyo - Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao mingled with local residents at Yoyogi Park in downtown Tokyo on Monday morning, during the second day of his official visit to Japan.

Wen, 68, had also jogged at the park three years ago during a similar visit.

A Japanese woman claimed she also saw Wen jogging in the area during his previous visit. Wen told her the park gave him a sense of home and made him feel relaxed.

The premier stopped and chatted with other people on Monday.

"Have you been to China?" "Do you know me?" and "Do you jog every morning?" were some common questions Wen used to start a conversation with local residents.

At the end of each conversation, the premier would invite them to visit the ongoing Shanghai Expo.

The highlight of Wen's trip to the park was when he practiced taiji with local residents.

The taiji crowd attracted the attention of Sky Barlow, 23, from Texas in the United States. Barlow is learning Japanese in Tokyo and visits the park every morning.

"I felt the park was a bit different today," he said. Barlow was astonished when Frances Withrow, 19, also from Texas, told him the Chinese premier was in the park.

Wen, who knew that morning exercises are routine for park-goers, also asked others to join him in the exercises on Monday.

A woman told him they usually do so at 6:30 am. It was 10 minutes early and the premier said: "Okay, I'll follow your time."

At 6:30, Chieko Kawakami, 76, led a team of more than 20 people to exercise with Wen. Music accompanied their routine.

Wen followed Kawakami's movements.

"I'm not as good as you," Wen said to Chieko after completing the set of exercises.

"And you are older than I, but you look younger."

The woman burst into laughter at the premier's compliment and she wished him longevity and health.

Hairstylist Reiki Toshiaki accompanied Wen shortly after he arrived at the downtown park.

The 64-year-old Toshiaki told China Daily after seeing off Wen that he was "a bit nervous" when he was jogging with Wen.

"I cannot believe I had a face-to-face encounter with such a bigwig," he said.

After the park trip, Wen played baseball with students at the stadium of Tokyo's Sophia University.

China Daily

(China Daily 06/01/2010 page3)