Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida both intend to attend the funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, according to Japanese media.
Since ascending to the throne in May 2019, it would be Naruhito’s first trip abroad. According to NTV, TBS, and other media outlets on Friday, citing government sources, Empress Masako has also expressed a desire to attend, and the Japanese government is organizing their trip.
Kishida is considering attending the funeral, which Britain says will be held in a little over a week, before visiting New York for the United Nations General Assembly late in the month, TV Asahi reported on Saturday. U.S. President Joe Biden has said he will attend the funeral of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
The Prime Minister’s Office and Imperial Household Agency could not immediately be reached outside business hours for comment on the reports.
The British royals and Japan’s imperial family have longstanding ties. The emperor had been invited to Britain by the queen in 2020, but the trip was postponed due to the pandemic.
Queen Elizabeth, who visited Japan in 1975 to meet then-Emperor Hirohito, made a “great contribution” towards strengthening Japan’s ties with Britain, Kishida said on Friday.
Also offering condolences, Naruhito, who studied at Oxford University in the 1980s, was “deeply saddened” by the queen’s death, the Imperial Household Agency said. Masako also studied at Oxford.
The emperor and empress went into three days of mourning on Friday as they were feeling “deep grief and heartfelt condolences”, the agency announced.
It is rare for a Japanese emperor to attend a royal funeral overseas. In 1993, then-Emperor Akihito, now emperor emeritus, attended the state funeral of King Baudouin of Belgium with then-Empress Michiko.