Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako have reportedly accepted an invitation from Queen Elizabeth to visit Britain in early 2020. The visit will be the first overseas visit by the Emperor after he acceded to the throne last year in the month of May. According to the Buckingham Palace website, the Emperor and Empress will be staying at the Windsor Castle.
The trip that is planned for Spring of 2020 will be a rare trip for Masako, who has not undertaken many overseas trips, even when Naruhito was crown prince because of her stress-induced illness. Japan’s Chief Government Spokesman Yoshihide Suga told local media that the close relationship between Japan's imperial family and Britain's royal family in recent years has played an important role in ensuring that the bond between Japan and the United Kingdom remains strong.
Japanese investors and major companies that used Britain as an entry point into the European market due to the insistence of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were greatly concerned with the news of Britain's exit from the European Union that is scheduled for January 31, according to reports.
Queen Elizabeth has previously hosted two state visits from Japan. She hosted former Emperor Akihito who is Naruhito's father. Former Emperor Akihito had made a state visit in 1998 and Emperor Showa made a state visit in 1971. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited Japan once in 1975 at the invitation of Emperor Showa.
Earlier, Emperor Naruhito delivered his first New Year speech since ascending the throne and said that he hoped for a year in the absence of natural disasters. Naruhito was joined by his wife, Masako along with his parents, the former Emperor Akihito and his wife Michiko at Imperial palace. Naruhito also told the cheering crowd that he was praying for world peace and acknowledged the sufferings of Japanese people affected by natural disasters.