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Japan's Prime Minister, Tomiichi Murayama, began his visit to the US by paying homage to J William Fulbright, the retired Senator whose name is synonymous with foreign study. Mr Murayama went to see the 89-year-old Arkansan at his Washington townh ouse, as Mr Fulbright suffered a stroke in 1993 which has limited his limb movements and his speech.

Mr Fulbright has been revered in Japan for starting the student exchange programme that opened American universities to the nearly 200,000 students around the world - including many from former enemy nations - since the Second World War.

Harriet Fulbright said Mr Murayama thanked her husband for ``the tremendous opportunity'' that Fulbright scholarships have provided to young Japanese. Mr Fulbright, according to his wife, replied that the grants represented wisdom as well as generosity, as the programme affords both sides cultural experience not gained in books alone.