An uproar in Japan over the homeland of the "Moomin" storybook characters was elevated to a diplomatic matter on Wednesday, with the Japanese and Finnish foreign ministers assuring each other the issue has been well and truly resolved.

The hippopotamus-like characters, created by a Finnish artist, were the object of confusion and rage last month after a Japanese university entrance exam question on geography presented students with excerpts of the Moomins' adventures and asked them to name the country of origin, although the Moomins' homeland is never made clear in the original stories.

Speaking before the press ahead of a dinner meeting in Tokyo, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told Finnish counterpart Timo Soini he understands the issue of the location of "Moominvalley" has been "settled."

"Now we know where the Moomin is, it is in each of our hearts, so we can be very relaxed that this problem is over," Soini replied.

Prior to the exam debacle, Moomins already enjoyed a degree of popularity in Japan, where both domestic and imported animated characters have fans of all ages.

The creatures' creator, Tove Jansson, wrote the original stories in Swedish. She died in 2001.

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