Emperor Expresses Hopes for Strengthening U.K.-Japan Ties Ahead of Official Visit; Expresses Regret Over Queen’s Passing

Pool photo / The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Emperor speaks at a press conference at the Imperial Palace on Wednesday, ahead of his official visit to the United Kingdom.

The Emperor expressed Wednesday his hope to strengthen the relationship between Japan and the United Kingdom, prior to his official visit.

“I hope this will be an opportunity to strengthen our ties with the British royal family and deepen the friendly relations between the people of our country and the United Kingdom,” said the Emperor, at a press conference at the Imperial Palace.

The Emperor and Empress will visit the United Kingdom as state guests from Saturday to June 29.

At the beginning of the press conference, the Emperor referred to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II in 2022. A planned visit to the United Kingdom in the spring of 2020 at the Queen’s invitation was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was a real shame that I was unable to visit while she was still alive,” he said.

The Emperor expressed concern for the health of King Charles III and Kate, Princess of Wales, both of whom have publicly disclosed their cancer diagnoses, and wished them a speedy recovery.

Reflecting on his time studying in the United Kingdom, the Emperor said, “Those were days filled with awe and inspiration,” and fondly remembered his interactions with the royal family, describing them as “a heartwarming welcome that made me feel like a member of the family.”

Regarding the history of conflict between Japan and the United Kingdom during World War II, he called it “truly regrettable” and emphasized the importance of “deepening our understanding of history and fostering a love for peace.”

The Imperial couple will visit the University of Oxford, where they both studied.

“I’m eagerly looking forward to visiting with Masako for the first time and taking a stroll together,” the Emperor said.