Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, currently on a six-day visit to the sub-continent of India, attended a banquet on Monday night hosted by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee at his official resident in New Delhi. On the night, the emperor was gracious in his speech towards the long-standing relations between India and Japan.
In his address, the emperor touched on the couple’s last visit to the country 53 years ago, when they were still crown prince and princess. “We felt a high ambition for nation building with pacifism in line with (Mahatma) Gandhi’s thought as its ideal, and that impression is still engraved in us today,” he said. The emperor also extended his gratitude for India having sent a team of rescuers to Japan in the wake of the March 2011 quake and tsunami disaster. And on the Indian Parliament’s honoring of Japan’s atomic bomb victims in August every year, the emperor said, “On behalf of the nation and in sympathy with the bereaved kin of the victims in particular, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude.” The emperor was clad in a suit and the empress was wearing a traditional Japanese costume for the dinner party where 90 people invited to enjoy Indian cuisine with the Japanese imperial couple.
In another part of their trip, Emperor Akihito visited the Japanese ambassador’s official residence here on Dec. 1 to see a linden tree he planted 53 years ago when he last visited. “It has grown so big,” the Emperor was quoted by the Imperial Household Agency as saying. The trunk of the tree, which the Emperor planted at the Japanese ambassador’s official residence in New Delhi on Dec. 1, 1960, has grown to about seven meters in circumference and some 17 meters high. The Emperor and the Empress also visited Lodi Gardens in downtown New Delhi, and met with around 280 people, including local residents and Japanese nationals living there. The Imperial Couple then took a walk around the gardens.