HIS Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu`izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam met with Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko yesterday (19/06), during a court luncheon at the exclusive inner grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
The sovereign`s visit, which marks the close relations of Brunei and Japan`s royal families, also saw the exchange of views on bilateral relations in general.
Accompanying His Majesty to the Imperial Palace were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Abdul `Azim and other senior government officials.
Seventy-four-year-old Emperor Akihito is Japan`s 125th emperor after succeeding the throne in 1989.
Empress Michiko, the eldest daughter of a prominent businessman, was the first commoner to marry into the imperial family.
The Imperial Palace, or also known as Kokyo, was fully built in 1888 and located on the former site of Edo Castle, a large park area surrounded by moats and big stone walls in the centre of Tokyo city.
Major buildings and inner gardens at the official residence of Japan`s Imperial Family are not permitted for tourists and visitors.
The Imperial Palace also symbolises Japan`s rich culture and history, thus becoming a major tourist attraction for locals and foreigners alike.
Earlier yesterday, His Majesty granted an audience to three prominent members of the Japanese parliament at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.
Toshihiro Nikai, chairman of the Diet Affairs of the Liberal Democratic Party and the chief secretary general of the Japan-Brunei Parliamentarian`s League for Promotion of Friendship; Kozo Watanabe, chairman of the Diet Affairs Committee of the Democratic Party of Japan and Tetsuma Esaki, senior Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs have all previously visited Brunei in the past.
During the audience, the Japanese parliamentarians hoped to further enhance cooperation with Brunei in areas such as air services and youth.
They also expressed their appreciation for the excellent bilateral relations, particularly in the area of energy supply.
His Majesty also took the opportunity to thank the Japanese parliamentarians for their continuous efforts to strengthen the existing close ties between both countries.
The monarch later departed for Brunei in the afternoon after concluding a three-day visit to Japan, which also saw the signing of a free trade agreement on Monday that aims to remove trade barriers through the free flow of goods between both countries.
Present to bid farewell to His Majesty and his delegation at the Haneda International Airport were Itsuo Hashimoto, Japanese ambassador to Brunei, Akio Isomata, director of Second Southeast Asia Division at Japan`s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as Dato Paduka Hj Adnan Buntar, Brunei`s ambassador to Japan.
Brunei established diplomatic relations with Japan in 1984. Japan is home to over 127 million people, with the capital city of Tokyo constituting about 10 per cent of the total population.
Source: http://www.bruneitimes.com.bn/details.php?shape_ID=33874 (20 Juni 2007)