Abe Seeks Rugby Diplomacy as World Cup Nears Kickoff


Tokyo, Sept. 19 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to establish a good rapport with leaders of powerhouse nations competing at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, which kicks off Friday, as they fly into the country for the tournament.

Abe met with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday, and the two leaders exchanged rugby jerseys bearing each other's first names.

"I pray in earnest that the All Blacks and the Japanese national team will face off in the final match," Abe said at a joint press conference with Ardern after the meeting. All Blacks is the moniker of the New Zealand national rugby football team.

Ardern expressed gratitude for the welcome Japan extended to All Blacks supporters.

Abe spoke with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the phone on Wednesday. They wished each other's national team the best for the tournament.

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Jiji Press