Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako and other imperial family members listen to a scholar's New Year lecture at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Tuesday. Photo: Pool/KYODO

Emperor, empress to make state visit to UK


Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have accepted an invitation from Queen Elizabeth to make a state visit to Britain in early 2020, in what will be their first overseas visit since Naruhito acceded to the throne in May last year.

"Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress will stay at Windsor Castle," said a statement from Buckingham Palace. The visit is planned for spring, the statement said.

It will be a rare overseas trip by Masako, who did not go on many visits with Naruhito while crown princess due to her recovery from a stress-induced illness.

"The relationship between our country's imperial family and Britain's royal family has played an important role in fostering strong ties between both of our countries," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

"In line with this spirit, the emperor and the empress have received an invitation to visit," he said, adding that plans were under way for the imperial couple to visit during the April-June period.

Britain's exit from the European Union, due to take place on Jan 31, has concerned some Japanese investors and major companies that were encouraged by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to use the country as a launchpad into Europe.

Elizabeth has hosted two previous state visits from Japan: Naruhito's father Emperor Akihito - who became the first Japanese monarch in two centuries to abdicate when he stepped down in favor of his son last year - made a state visit in 1998 and Emperor Showa (Hirohito) made a state visit in 1971.

During those visits there were protests by former British prisoners of war who wanted a full apology and further compensation for World War Two suffering.

The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, have made one state visit to Japan: in 1975 at the invitation of Emperor Showa.

Both Naruhito and Masako studied at Oxford, a period which Naruhito has described as one of the happiest times of his life. He conducted research on the history of river transport and she studied international relations.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Wow, nice for Masako to be allowed out every now and then.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

The former empress suffered from stress-related illnesses as well. One has to wonder what makes life so hard for a Japanese royal woman ...

2 ( +7 / -5 )

This is more symbolic than anything but I'm glad to see more representation of Japan by the royal family.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Good to see them both travelling as a couple. I'm sure the worldly (pre-nuptial) multi-lingual Masako-san will relish the chance to immerse herself in overseas ventures.

And I think that photo sums up what from all accounts is a stifling, rigid, frigid environment in which the royals exist.

That doesn't look like a lecture to me. Rod-straight backs, closed fists on knees knuckles forward, ball gowns, penguin suits and the empty space (don't get too close) isn't the picture of at-ease gentle people.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Off to visit their British cousins and enjoy their riches and trappings. Nice for them.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The former empress suffered from stress-related illnesses as well. One has to wonder what makes life so hard for a Japanese royal woman ...

and Prinncess Megan does not even want to be in the same room as the Queen of England and is now living in Canada.  One has to wonder what makes life so hard for a Western royal woman ...

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

I think the meeting with Elizabeth will be on whether the Emperor will adopt Harry and therefore Harry will become the crown prince instead of the Emperor's half brother and the son. Multiple problems solved. Meghan can do anime voice overs here.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Yes - Good to see the Empress travel abroad. Waiting for çhipstar to pipe up and say this is all a waste of time.

This comes at a good time for the UK post Brexit as I am pretty sure that travelling along with the Royals will be various Government elements who will be able to sit down on the side and iron out any concerns that Japan may have. More comes out of these visits than photocalls and Dinners.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

To see Japanese wear formal Western attire somehow looks really pretentious to me, but the ladies do look lovely. What if foreign royalty showed up wearing kimonos? Matter of fact Japanese ladies are very attractive in Western clothing which is most confusing to foreigners as their mindset and customs are not foreign, behind closed doors the truth is revealed.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Dirk T asks "The former empress suffered from stress-related illnesses as well. One has to wonder what makes life so hard for a Japanese royal woman ..." The answer is the IHA.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Maybe the Japanese Royals might coach their British counterparts a little...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The Emperor and Empress are not representatives of the State. They represent the Japanese people. The State and the People are not one and the same. More creeping back to the 1930s.. Take "state" out of the headline. It's just a visit, not a state visit. I don't debate online, so do whatever you want with my comment. I'll be doing something else.

0 ( +2 / -2 )


Maybe the Japanese Royals might coach their British counterparts a little...

Errr one word abdication.... I was for it but your comment is the pot calling the kettle black no.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Emperor of Japan or the Emperor (天皇 tennō, literally "heavenly sovereign") is the Head of state of Japan, The monarch is the symbol of the Japanese nation and the unity of its people. In the Japanese constitutional monarchy, the emperor does not have any political power.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Since she has became Empress the noose has been forced off her neck and she looks so much happier. I hope there is no going back, and so many more trips for them both on the horizon.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Who is the academic scholar giving the lecture...on what subject? Look who enjoyed it and who did not...very telling. Why was this photo selected?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There were three lectures:

Professor Emeritus of Nara University and Osaka University, Haruyuki Tono first spoke about the history of Japanese envoys to the Tang Dynasty in ancient China.

Professor Emeritus of Hitotsubashi University Osamu Saito reflected upon the history of industrialization around the world.

Tohoku University Professor Emeritus Akira Hasegawa spoke about seismic and volcanic activity in locations where plates on the Earth's surface sink into the ground.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@N30...: Actually from a UK standpoint this IS a State Visit. Suggest you research what is and isn't defined as one.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Will be good to welcome them to the UK! I suspect a few awards will be bestowed, as if often the case from both sides.

Will be nice to have a state visit that wont include mass demonstartions about the visitor operations in the middle east!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just make sure Boris doesn't get anywhere near them...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I wonder what choices they have in their lives. I am an an anti-monarchist but do feel some sympathy for those trapped by their situation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nice picture. Very elegant. All sitting upright. Healthy look. Bon Voyage.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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