Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko departed Wednesday for a five-day visit to Britain to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee, their first overseas trip since 2009 when they visited Canada and Hawaii.
“I am very happy to have an opportunity to express my congratulations to her majesty, who is still well performing her duty as the queen,” the Emperor said at Haneda airport in Tokyo.
The Emperor has maintained contact with the British queen since he attended her coronation in 1953 as a 19-year-old Crown Prince.
The visit also marks the 78-year-old Emperor’s first trip abroad since he underwent heart bypass surgery in February.
On Friday, the Imperial Couple will attend a luncheon hosted by the queen at Windsor Castle near London.