U.S. gives green light to Imperial Couple's visit to Saipan
The U.S. government has told Japan that it welcomes a proposed visit by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko to the U.S.-administered Pacific island of Saipan ahead of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II this year.
After receiving official agreement on the visit from the United States, the Japanese government sent an advance group to the island, part of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, on Thursday and Friday.
The visit, which is being planned for the latter half of June, is intended as a memorial trip for those who died in the war. It marks the first time the Emperor and Empress have visited the island.
Japan entered into negotiations with U.S. officials over the trip in February after receiving a strong request from the Emperor and Empress, and the United States conveyed its approval of the trip to Japanese Embassy officials at the beginning of this month.
An advance team of five people including those from the Foreign Ministry's North American Affairs Bureau conducted an examination of a war memorial that the Japanese government erected on the island in 1974. The Emperor and Empress plan to lay flowers at the memorial during their visit.
Originally the end of March had been considered as a time to make the trip, but it was put off because it clashed with a visit to Japan by foreign leaders.
Plans had also been drawn up for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko to visit the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau, where many victims died during the war, but these visits are expected to be cancelled because of difficulties in local transport and security issues. (Mainichi Shimbun, Japan, April 9, 2005)
New U.S. Ambassador to Japan presents credentials to Emperor Akihito
New U.S. Ambassador to Japan J. Thomas Schieffer rode a horse-drawn carriage to present his credentials to Emperor Akihito at the Imperial Palace on Monday.
Covering the 1.5-kilometer (1-mile) distance from Tokyo Station in a carriage drawn by two horses, Schieffer arrived for the presentation ceremony in the palace's "Matsuno-ma" (Pine Room), said Imperial Household Agency spokesman Hideaki Ota. Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura was also in attendance.
Schieffer, 57, arrived in Japan on Friday with his wife, Susanne, to assume his new post . His predecessor, Howard Baker, left in February.
Earlier Monday, Schieffer met with Japan's Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi _ his first meeting with a top Japanese ministry official.
Yachi told Schieffer that bilateral ties between Japan and the United States have been "in a very good situation" thanks to close personal relations between Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Schieffer agreed and said that U.S.-Japan relations are extremely important for the world, the statement said.
Prince Hitachi to attend funeral of Prince Rainier of Monaco
(Kyodo) _ Prince Hitachi, the brother of Emperor Akihito, and his wife Princess Hanako will attend the funeral of Prince Rainier III of Monaco on Friday, the government said Tuesday.
The couple, who plan to leave Japan on Wednesday, previously visited Monaco in 1995 and 1999. The Monaco monarch died April 6 at age 81 after a battle with lung, heart and kidney problems. He married American film star Grace Kelly in 1956. Princess Grace died in a car accident in 1982.
TOKYO, JAPAN: Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko lead their famliy, Crown Prince Naruhito Princess Nori , and Princess Takamado , to meet with guests during a garden party at Akasaka Imperial Garden in Tokyo, 13 April 2005
Prince and Princess Hitachi of Japan walk towards the 19th-century cathedral before the funeral mass of Monaco's Prince Rainier III, 15 April 2005 in Monaco. The prince who ruled the Mediterranean statelet since 1949, died at the age of 81 after a month-long hospitalization with severe breathing and heart problems, 06 April 2005 in the principality.
I was quite disappointed to learn that Princess Masako did not turn up for the Garden party yesterday. I do hope that she is feeling better and will doesn't take too many large steps, as she is still in quite a fragile state.
btw. i quite like the shape of the hat that Princess Hitachi wore at the funeral of Prince Rainier.
it's not that chocolates are a substitute for love. Love is a substitute for chocolate.
Princess Sayako thanks parents on last birthday in palace
(Kyodo) _ Princess Sayako, the only daughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, offered thanks to her parents as she turned 36 Monday, her last birthday as an imperial family member before leaving the palace to marry a commoner.
"What I think has been truly meaningful for me is to have lived for the past 36 years with Their Majesties and to have been able to observe and learn from them," the princess, popularly known as Princess Nori, said in a written response Thursday to questions from reporters.
Born in 1969 into the world's oldest hereditary monarchy, the princess recalled that "life in a special position has had both beneficial aspects and also some difficulties," according to the written response provided both in Japanese and English.
But she said her life in the palace did not lack anything that could enable her to feel she was simply born to a father and mother, even though they are a bit busier than her friends' parents.
"I was just a child in a warm family environment...I am deeply grateful to have been able to live in such an environment.
"My parents have been...'working parents' and there were many occasions when they were away on domestic or international visits," she said.
"I felt a little lonely at times. However, I had two brothers...We got a sense of the importance of our parents' duties," she said, referring to Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Akishino.
"The figure of His Majesty walking straight and with ease and the figure of Her Majesty happily engaged in her duties while also attending to family matters, that will remain in my heart forever, after I have left."
"I am most deeply thankful for the happiness I have enjoyed during my days with them," she said.
Imperial family members most commonly make public comments in a written form or in a press conference on the occasion of their birthdays. Princess Sayako responded Thursday in her last such open remarks before marrying Yoshiki Kuroda, an employee with the Tokyo metropolitan government.
The marriage is expected to take place in late October or November, sources close to the palace said.
The princess must relinquish her royal title after her marriage to Kuroda in accordance with the Imperial House Law, which stipulates that a female member of the imperial family must leave the imperial household if she marries a commoner.
But she sounded quite positive about her new life, saying, "I am grateful that I will be able to go about my activities without affecting a large number of people (as I have done as a princess)."
While saying that Crown Princess Masako's health condition is "well on the way to recovery," Princess Sayako said she was worried by Crown Prince Naruhito's comments last May that there had been moves that "denied" his wife's career and personality.
Princess Sayako said she was "saddened" because her brother's comments triggered "unjustified criticism" of the emperor and empress, and also affected "overseas perceptions of Japan's imperial family."
In a press conference in February, the crown prince offered a public apology for the remarks, which caused a stir and apparently brought about tension in the imperial family.
Crown Princess Masako, a Harvard- and Oxford-educated former diplomat, has been mostly out of public view since December 2003.
The crown prince said in February that his wife still has "ups and downs," and that her doctors believe it will take her some time to recover.
NAGAKUTE, JAPAN: Dutch Crown Princess Maxima (2nd L) chats with Japanese Prince Akishino (2nd R) while her husband Crown Prince Willem-Alexander (L) and Princess Kiko (R) look on at the Dutch pavilion at the 2005 World Expo in Nagakute, Aichi prefecture,
NAGAKUTE, JAPAN: Pictures of the Dutch royal couple, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Crown Princess Maxima, are displayed on a floor screen during a show at the Dutch pavilion at the 2005 World Expo in Nagakute, Aichi prefecture, 19 April 2005.
NAGAKUTE, JAPAN: Dutch Crown Princess Maxima (C) chats with Japanese Prince Akishino (R) while Crown Prince Willem-Alexander looks on at the Dutch pavilion at the 2005 World Expo in Nagakute, Aichi prefecture, 19 April 2005.
NAGAKUTE, JAPAN: Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander (2nd L) and his wife Crown Princess Maxima (2nd R) wave to wellwishers upon their arrival at the Dutch pavilion at the 2005 World Expo in Nagakute, Aichi prefecture, 19 April 2005.
NAGAKUTE, JAPAN: Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander (C), accompanied by his wife Crown Princess Maxima, smiles as he arrives at the Dutch pavilion at the 2005 World Expo in Nagakute, Aichi prefecture, 19 April 2005.
2,Prince and Princess Akishino with Dutch Crown Princess Maxima(4-19)
3,Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko (4-21)
5~7,Crown prince Naruhito in Osaka(4-22&23)