Cabinet approves Imperial trip to Europe

The Emperor and Empress will leave May 20 for official visits to the Netherlands and Sweden, the government said Friday.

The Imperial Couple will arrive in Amsterdam on May 23 after a stopover in Switzerland and move on to Finland on May 26 for a private visit before arriving in Sweden on May 28 for an official visit, government officials said.

The Cabinet announced in a morning meeting that former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto will lead the officials accompanying the couple, the officials said.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the couple will meet with Swiss President Adolf Ogi and officials at international organizations in Geneva.

During their official visits to the Netherlands and Sweden, the Emperor and Empress will meet with Queen Beatrix and King Gustav and attend receptions, agency officials said.

In Helsinki, the couple will hold talks with Finnish President Tarja Halonen.

The Emperor will be paying his first official visit to the Netherlands, with whom Japan is celebrating 400 years of ties this year. Japanese-Dutch relations date back to the opening of Japan to overseas trade through Nagasaki in 1600.

The couple are scheduled to return to Tokyo on June 1.

The trip will be the ninth official overseas trip for the Imperial Couple since the Emperor’s accession to the throne in 1989.