Emperor hails strong ties with Britain

JIJI

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko held talks with Japanese residents in London on Saturday and expressed deep emotion about the strong ties between Japan and Britain.

Addressing expatriates who gathered at the official residence of Japanese Ambassador Keiichi Hayashi, the Emperor, 78, recalled his visit to Britain about 60 years ago, when British sentiment toward Japan was not favorable, to attend the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of his father, Emperor Hirohito, known posthumously as Emperor Showa.

“I now feel deeply moved by the strong bond that has been established between Japan and Britain,” he said. “I sincerely hope you will make efforts so that the friendship between the peoples of the two countries will become stronger.”

When Japanese pianist Mitsuko Uchida, who won a Grammy award last year, asked the Emperor about his health following coronary bypass surgery in February, he said he was all right, according to Uchida.

Maki Tsukada, a judoka who won gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said a chat with the couple cheered her up.

“I felt encouraged by having talks with the Imperial Couple,” said Tsukada, who training as an instructor in Britain.