Emperor, Empress meet Indian citizens in New Delhi

JIJI

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Sunday visited a memorial Bo tree they planted in New Delhi 53 years ago.

The Imperial Couple planted the tree at the official residence of the Japanese ambassador to India on Dec. 1, 1960, when they visited the place as Crown Prince and Princess on behalf of then-Emperor Hirohito.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the Emperor looked up the 17-meter tree and said: “This is that Bo tree. It has grown very tall.”

Briefed by Ambassador Takeshi Yagi about the date of the planting inscribed on the monument in front of the tree, the Emperor said: “Today is that day? Just 53 years ago.”

On Sunday morning, the couple visited Lodhi Gardens in central New Delhi and had talks with some 280 local citizens and Japanese living in the South Asian country.

People who gathered at the garden welcomed the Imperial Couple by waving at them.

The couple asked a young Indian, “Have you ever been to Japan?” and told Japanese residents, “Have you been here for long?”

Empress Michiko received chrysanthemums from Tomar Aarnavi, a 5-year-old girl who goes to a local kindergarten. The Empress shook hands with the girl with a smile.

The couple strolled around the garden for about 15 minutes while listening to explanations from a botanical expert.

At the official residence of Ambassador Yagi on Sunday evening, the Emperor and Empress had talks with 85 people, including members of a society of Japanese residents in India and a Japanese soccer player playing in the country.

The Emperor and Empress are visiting India as state guests at the invitation of the Indian government after the two countries marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the bilateral diplomatic relations.

The Imperial Couple’s visit drew much media coverage. The Hindu, a daily newspaper, said the visits by members of the Imperial family members will help strengthen relations between the two countries.