Japanese Emperor back to Canada after 56 years
Japan's Emperor Akihito said Tuesday he was looking forward to his first return to Canada since making his first-ever overseas trip there as a teenage prince 56 years ago.
The 75-year-old monarch and Empress Michiko, one year his junior, are scheduled to leave here on Friday on a 15-day goodwill tour of Canada and the US Pacific island state of Hawaii.
In a message ahead of the visit, Akihito said he first visited Canada in 1953 as a 19-year-old on his way to Britain to attend the coronation of British Queen Elizabeth II, as a representative of his father Emperor Hirohito.
"The official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia in Victoria, which we will be visiting during this trip, was, in fact, the place where I spent my first night ever in a foreign country," the emperor said.
Recalling his four-night trip on the transcontinental train from Vancouver to Toronto, Akihito said he was "deeply touched that many people of Japanese ancestry came to the stations to greet me warmly in spite of the severely cold weather".
Akihito, who married millionaire flour miller's daughter Michiko Shoda in 1959 and ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 1989 upon his father's death, has visited more than 50 countries as crown prince or emperor.
The royal couple will stay in Canada from July 3-14 to mark the 80th anniversary of the establishment of Canada's first diplomatic mission in Japan. They will travel to Ottawa, Toronto, Victoria and Vancouver.
Akihito and Michiko will then visit Hawaii to attend ceremonies to mark the 50th anniversary of a scholarship foundation which was founded to commemorate the couple's wedding.