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New Zealand prime minister to make 5-day visit to Japan

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will make a five-day visit to Japan from Wednesday and meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a top Japanese government spokesman said Thursday.

During her visit, Abe and Ardern plan to hold talks and a luncheon on Sept. 19, Japanese government officials said.

"Through the first visit by Prime Minister Ardern in her current capacity, we hope to strengthen bilateral cooperation on the political and economic fronts," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference.

Japan and New Zealand are "strategic partners" that share basic values such as democracy and the rule of law, Suga said, adding that he hopes people-to-people exchanges will increase.

After becoming prime minister, Ardern gave birth to her first child in June 2018. She returned to work after six weeks of maternity leave.

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