TORRANCE : Student Diplomats Forge Ties With Japan

Two Torrance teen-agers, one of Chinese ancestry and the other of Greek-Italian ancestry, have such good ideas about improving relations between the United States and Japan that they got to run the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles for a day.

Phillip Chen, 15, filled in as acting consul general and Tia Vasiliou, 13, worked as deputy consul general at the consulate Tuesday.

The two students placed first and second in a essay contest for junior and high school students sponsored by the Torrance Unified School District and the Japanese Consulate. The essay topic was, "How Japanese and American people can get along better."

As part of their official duties, Chen and Vasiliou sat in on a meeting with Consul General Seiichiro Noboru, who is charged with promoting relations between Japan and the United States, spokeswoman Miriam Stenshoel said.

Chen, a sophomore at South High School, also signed a letter to President Clinton on how to promote relations between the two countries.

"Americans can learn about Japanese respect and politeness towards parents, so that parents can teach youngsters important morals and virtues," reads the letter, which is based on Chen's winning essay.

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