Wellington: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will honour the 28 citizens from his country who died in the devastating 2011 Christchurch earthquake during a visit to New Zealand next week, officials said Friday.
Abe will make a brief visit to New Zealand on Monday as part of a swing through the Pacific that also includes a stop in Australia, and reportedly Papua New Guinea.
Japan is New Zealand`s fourth largest trading partner and Prime Minister John Key said Abe would hold discussions with business leaders in Auckland before heading to Christchurch.
"Prime Minister Abe has been spearheading a revival of Japan`s economy and diplomacy," Key said.
"His visit is an opportunity to mark New Zealand`s long-standing links with Japan through government, business and personal ties."
From there, Abe will head to the South Island city of Christchurch, large swathes of which were flattened in a February 2011 quake that claimed 185 lives.
Among the dead were 28 Japanese students who were in an English-language school located in the CTV building, which collapsed then burst into flames after the 6.3-magnitude tremor, killing 115 people.
A memorial has been erected on the site of the six-storey 1980s-era office block, which a subsequent investigation found was so badly designed it should never have received a building permit.
Japan sent search and rescue teams to comb through the rubble after the disaster and has been involved in the city`s rebirth through the so-called "cardboard cathedral, designed by award-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban.
The structure, which is a temporary replacement for the 1881 Anglican cathedral destroyed in the quake, is an A-frame building constructed with weather-proofed cardboard tubes.