Reflections by His Majesty the Emperor on his upcoming visit to the foreign countries

Reflections by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan on his upcoming visit to Canada and the State of Hawaii in the United States of America (June 30, 2009)

The Empress and I will be paying a visit to Canada at the invitation of Her Excellency The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, the Governor General of Canada. Ever since the resumption of the diplomatic relations in the aftermath of the Second World War, Japan and Canada have steadily built a close relation based on friendship and cooperation. In response to the gracious invitation extended by the Government of Canada over the years, I am very happy that it is now made possible for us to embark upon this trip.

This will be my second visit to Canada. My first visit was in 1953, the year after the Peace Treaty took effect, when I was nineteen years old. The coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was held in June that year, and I visited Canada on my way to Britain to attend the ceremony as a representative of my father Emperor Showa. 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. I still remember the warm welcome extended to me by His Excellency The Right Honourable Vincent Massey, then Governor General of Canada, the Right Honourable Louis Stephen St. Laurent, then Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Canada, and His Honour Clarence Wallace, then Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, as well as the people of Canada, including many Canadians of Japanese ancestry. I traveled for three days and four nights by the transcontinental train from Vancouver to Toronto, during which I was deeply touched that many people of Japanese ancestry came to the stations to greet me warmly in spite of the severely cold weather. Fifty six years have passed since then, and I am much delighted that I will be visiting Canada once again, this time with the Empress for whom this will be Her first visit.

In recent years, the bond of friendship and cooperation between Japan and Canada has been strengthened in numerous fields. Since last year, various events have been held in both countries in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between our two countries. I sincerely hope that our visit will contribute to the furtherance of the mutual understanding and the friendship between the two countries.

Taking advantage of this trip, we will visit the State of Hawaii on our way back home in order to attend the celebration to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Crown Prince Akihito Scholarship Foundation which was established thanks to the joint initiative by the Hawaiians and the Japanese in order to celebrate our wedding. Annually, we meet at our Imperial Residence the American recipients of the scholarship who are studying in Japan, as well as the Japanese recipients who are departing for Hawaii to study there. We look forward to meeting these recipient students again on this occasion, and also we would like to pay our deep respect to the dedication of those Americans and Japanese who strenuously worked for the establishment of this Foundation and offered generous support to sustain and nurture its activity since then.

Both Canada and the State of Hawaii are home to many people of Japanese ancestry. We are looking forward to meeting these people in various places during our trip and further deepening our understanding of the paths they have taken to this day.

In closing, I would like to express my gratitude to the Prime Minister of Japan and to many other people whose tireless efforts have made this visit possible.

provisional translation