Address by His Majesty the Emperor
at the State Dinner in Honor of
Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark, and
His Royal Highness the Prince Consort
The Imperial Palace Tokyo,
Tuesday November 16, 2004
I wish to extend a heartfelt welcome to Your Majesty, Queen Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark and Your Royal Highness the Prince Consort on the occasion of your State Visit to Japan. It is my great pleasure to be able to spend this evening here with you.
Your Majesty's first visit to Japan was in 1963, when you were still Princess, and then you visited once again in 1970, as an Official Guest at the time of the Japan World Exposition in Osaka, on that occasion accompanied by His Royal Highness Prince Henrik. It was in 1981, after Your Majesty's accession to the throne, that you visited Japan as a State Guest with His Royal Highness the Prince Consort, at which time we greeted you one evening together with Emperor Showa, then in vigorous health, at this same Homeiden. More recently, I recall with deep appreciation that you graciously attended my Ceremony of Accession to the Throne. Given these close and friendly contacts over the years with our country, I am truly delighted to welcome Your Majesty once again on a State Visit to Japan.
I first met Your Majesty 51 years ago, when after attending the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, I made a tour of countries of Europe, during which I paid a visit to Denmark. From Copenhagen, spending one night on the island of Funen, I traveled the next day to the Jutland Peninsula, to visit at Graasten Palace Your Majesty's father and mother, from whom I received a warm welcome. In those days both Your Majesty and I were in our teens, and you were the same age as my eldest granddaughter is now.
Since that time, the Empress and I have had the opportunity to make two visits to Denmark. The first of these was made when I was Crown Prince, as a representative of Emperor Showa on a return visit for Your Majesty's earlier State Visit to Japan. The second visit to Denmark was made after my accession to the Throne, as State Guests. On both of these occasions we have been profoundly grateful for the heartfelt and hospitable welcome we have received from Your Majesty and Your Royal Highness. This welcome, along with the warm reception received from the people of Denmark, are memories that we shall never forget.
It was in 1867 that relations were first established between Denmark and Japan by the last Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation to be concluded by the Government of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Since that time, with a temporary interruption from the time of the Second World War until the coming into effect of the peace treaty, fruitful friendly relations have continued to this day.
During that period a variety of exchanges have taken place between the peoples of our countries, and the people of Japan feel closeness with Denmark, and have learned much from it. Next year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen, who has, over long years, been a well-loved author in Japan, and on our previous visit to Denmark, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince came to greet us at Billund airport and showed us Andersen's childhood home at Odense.
As I mentioned before, I traveled in 1953 from Copenhagen to the Jutland Peninsula to pay a visit to Their Majesties the King and Queen. At that time, I journeyed through the agricultural region of Denmark. The beauty of that region left a deep impression on me, as someone coming from a country that had just been devastated by war. I now give thought to the fact that there was the history of hardship, when Denmark lost one-third of its territory in war to Prussia and Austria, and the people turned their efforts to, “regain with the plough what was lost by the sword”, behind what I saw.
I sincerely hope that the peoples of our countries who have both overcome respective hardships in the past will further deepen mutual understanding through exchanges, build closer and beneficial friendly relations, and contribute to the peace and prosperity not only of Denmark and Japan but of the world.
In Japan now, autumn is deepening, and I wish that Your Majesty's visit to Japan on this occasion will be fruitful, full of lasting memories.
I would now like to propose a toast to the good health of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II and His Royal Highness the Prince Consort as well as to the happiness of the people of the Kingdom of Denmark.