Japanese royal couple to fulfil pledge to visit Ipoh

Japanese royal couple to fulfil pledge to visit Ipoh

23 May 2006

published by www.nst.com.my

Ipoh, Malaysia —  The Emperor and Empress of Japan want to keep a promise — they are heading to Ipoh in less than three weeks’ time.

On June 10, the royal couple of the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy will spend most of their one-day visit to Malaysia in Perak’s capital to finish what they could not do 15 years ago due to a terrible haze.

In 1991, the first serious haze choked Malaysia and Ipoh lost out when visiting Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko’s scheduled stop was called off after many flights were cancelled or delayed.

Shigeo Yamada, Japan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry director for the Second Southeast Asia Division, said this would be the royal couple’s third visit to Malaysia, a rare and special occasion as they had only visited a few countries more than twice.

“Besides the United States, Belgium and Germany, Malaysia is one of only four countries the Emperor and Empress have visited more than twice,” he said.

The royal couple leaves Tokyo for Singapore on June 8 for the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the republic. They will then fly to Ipoh and later to Kuala Lumpur, before attending the 60th anniversary of King Bhumipol Adulyadej’s accession to the throne in Thailand.

“Their majesties will have a private dinner with the King and Queen of Malaysia, but the major part of this trip will be spent in Perak as they strongly desire to fulfil their 1991 promise to visit the people of the State,” Yamada said.

He said the royal couple would also be going to Kuala Kangsar, and was looking forward to visiting Sultan Azlan Shah, who was the Yang di-Pertuan Agong during their last state visit to Malaysia.

Ipoh is also a special place to Japan, as it became a sister city of Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu in 1989. The close relationship between the two cities had begun 10 years earlier, however, when Fukuoka first sent a “Youth Friendship Flight” delegation to Malaysia.

Yamada said this state visit would serve to further enhance ties and symbolise the excellent relationship between Malaysia and Japan.

Yutaka Kawashima, Grand Master of Ceremonies in the Imperial Household Agency, said the Emperor and Empress had very fond memories of their meetings with the monarchs of Malaysia, and were looking forward to reaffirming friendships.

Emperor Akihito, 72, the 125th Emperor of Japan, succeeded his father to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 1989.


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