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Daisaku Ikeda, founder of Soka University and honorary president of Soka Gakkai, was presented the fourth International Literary Award for Understanding and Friendship, according to a press conference held yesterday by the Chinese Literature Foundation.

The ceremony was held in the main tower's international conference hall at Soka University in Japan two weeks ago.

A delegation headed by Zhang Qi, honorary vice-chairman of the Chinese Writers' Association and executive vice-president of the Chinese Literature Foundation, attended the presentation.

Daisaku Ikeda, 75, was presented with a certificate and a one-metre-tall bronze statue of Chinese master poet Du Fu (712-770) of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). He loves poems by the ancient poet very much.

The award was launched in 1991 by the association and the foundation to honour foreigners who are deemed to have made significant contributions to the dissemination of Chinese culture through literature. Previous winners of the award are American writer Helen Foster Snow, Swiss-based Chinese writer Han Suyin and Thailand princess Sirindhorn.

Daisaku Ikeda is a poet, writer, educator and philosopher. He proposed the normalization of Sino-Japanese relations as early as 1968, four years before the two countries normalized diplomatic relations.

He established profound friendships with Chinese leaders and his friendship with former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai has always been cited as a story epitomizing the friendship between China and Japan.

The Chinese delegation also arranged an exhibition displaying 76 paintings and calligraphic works by Chinese artists inspired by Daisaku Ikeda's poetry and photographs, on December 1 in Japan.

This exhibition, held in Kobe, in Hyogo Prefecture, marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

(China Daily 12/10/2003 page2)


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