TOKYO/LONDON — Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have accepted an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II to make a state visit to Britain this spring, Buckingham Palace said Tuesday.
It will be the first overseas trip by the imperial couple since Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement in May. The emperor and empress will stay at Windsor Castle, according to Buckingham Palace.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also confirmed the plan, saying that preparations will be made for their visit between April and June. No further details were provided.
“Exchanges between the imperial family and the British royal family have played a critical role in the development of friendly ties between the two nations,” Suga said at a regular press conference in Tokyo.
“We will make necessary arrangements for a visit in the second quarter of this year,” the top Japanese government spokesman said.
In Japan, expectations are high for new imperial diplomacy as Emperor Naruhito is the first Japanese emperor to have studied abroad, at Britain’s University of Oxford. His wife Empress Masako is a Harvard and Oxford-educated former Japanese diplomat.
Former Emperor Akihito and former Empress Michiko were received by the queen as state guests in 1998.