It is with great pleasure that together with the Empress I visit the United Kingdom to attend a luncheon in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, to which She has invited monarchs of various countries. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Her Majesty for this invitation.
The Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was held soon after the Second World War, in June 1953, the year after the Treaty of Peace with Japan went into effect. At that time, being 19 years old, I attended the ceremony representing Emperor Showa, and taking that opportunity, visited quite a few countries in Europe and North America, a trip during which I learned and experienced so much. Coming from a country devastated by war, it pained me to observe the affluent lifestyles of the people in those countries, which was in such a contrast with the situation then in Japan where people were still suffering from poverty. This left a deep impression on my mind. I had been told that anti-Japanese feelings were quite strong in the United Kingdom in those days, and, in fact, there was a certain part of the country where my visit was not accepted. However, thanks to the efforts of many people, including Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, British people who were friends of Japan for years, and members of the Japanese Embassy in London, I personally did not encounter the situation in which such sentiments were manifested openly. For that I am grateful to the considerations of the people then concerned.
At the Coronation, I met Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, other members of the British Royal Family, and representatives of many countries, and had a most interesting and enjoyable time.
Almost sixty years later, it gives me great pleasure to be able to convey my congratulations to Her Majesty, who is fulfilling Her duties as the Queen in good health to this day. I am told that the only foreign representative who attended the Coronation then and who is again attending this commemorative event, as I am, is His Majesty Albert II, the King of the Belgians. At that time, His Majesty was an 18-year old representing King Baudouin, and I was 19 years old. We two were among the youngest of those attending the Coronation. Among those attending the commemorative luncheon this time, there are many whom the Empress and I have met in the ensuing years either in Japan or in their respective countries, and we are looking forward to renewing our acquaintances.
Prior to this trip, I had heart surgery in February, which has caused people much concern. I am most grateful for the warm thoughts and concern expressed by so many people. I am now doing exercises to recover my strength, and I feel that I am regaining my health.
At the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, the United Kingdom was quick to send us a rescue team, and it has continued to support the victims through various charity activities. On this visit to the United Kingdom, I am hoping to meet those who have been involved in those activities and convey to them our gratitude and that of the people of Japan.