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Wednesday, 3rd June 2015
In General Japan News,

Shinzo Abe appoints haiku diplomat

A new ambassador of haiku has been appointed in Japan, with the country looking towards a Belgium politician to take on the role.

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe picked Herman Van Rompuy, because of his open love of the art form, reports the AFP news agency.

The former premier of Belgium and ex-president of the European Council has been known to use haikus at diplomatic functions and when talking to the press.

Not only this, but Van Rompuy has also had a number of books of haikus that he has composed himself published.

Haikus have been created in Japan for centuries and are a form of verse traditionally consisting of 17 syllables set out in a five-seven-five pattern.

They confirm to the wider conventions of Japanese poetry, which mean rhyme is discarded, but a reference to the season is usually included.

Van Rompuy met with Abe on Tuesday (June 3rd) and promised to boost relations between Japan and the European Union through the practice of haiku.

Part of his new role will include promoting an exchange programme between those who love the verse in Europe and Japan.

Van Rompuy said in a statement: "As a haiku poet and a friend of Japan, I hope to continue to do my part to enhance Japan-EU relations."

He has been an honorary citizen of Mastsuyama in south-western Japan since 2013 due to his links with haiku, as the city is considered the birthplace of the modern version of the form.

It is not unusual for Japan to welcome high profile foreign figures with special interests in elements of its culture, often giving them official roles.

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