Japan prime minister Yoshihiko Noda said that during his visit to China he will ask Beijing to lease two pandas to the Japanese city of Sendai, to bring relief to the children of the city heavily struck by the March tsunami.
Noda is scheduled to visit China on Sunday and Monday, to meet president Hu Jintao and prime minister Wen Jiabao.
Noda met on Thursday with the vice-mayor of Sendai, Yukimoto Ito, singer Masahiko Kondo and actress Tetsuko Kuroyanagi.
“We want (the pandas) to heal the pain that children experienced and serve as a light of hope for them,” Ito told the prime minister. Kondo and Kuroyanagi presented Noda a signature list from the children who wish to see the animals.
The lease of pandas would be seen as a symbol of diplomatic friendship between the two countries. China sent a pair of pandas to Japan in 1972 to commemorate the normalization of bilateral relations, while another pair was given to a Japanese zoo in 2000, following the 1995 quake that struck Kobe.