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Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko arrive in India for official state visit

Kyodo

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrived in New Delhi on Saturday for a weeklong state visit to commemorate last year’s 60th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties.

The visit, 53 years after the Imperial Couple’s first official trip to the country in 1960 as Crown Prince and Crown Princess, is the first to India by a Japanese Emperor and Empress. It was arranged at the invitation of the Indian government.

It is the couple’s first overseas visit since last year, when they traveled to the United Kingdom to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

On Monday, the Imperial Couple will attend a ceremonial reception at the official residence of President Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi and visit Raj Ghat, a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. Later in the day, the president will hold a state banquet for them, according to the Imperial Household Agency.

On Tuesday, the Emperor and Empress will revisit the India International Center, where they attended a cornerstone-laying ceremony in 1960. During their stay in the southern city of Chennai from Wednesday, the couple will visit a traditional arts school. They will fly home Friday.

Prior to their departure, the Emperor expressed his thoughts on the trip, saying, “I hope that this visit will be an occasion to further deepen understanding of India.”

He said the visit to the India International Center and the meetings with the Indian president, as well as with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, “are some of the many things we are looking forward to on this visit.”

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