TOKYO Ė The emperor of Japan underlined on Wednesday the close ties between Japan and Spain, and highlighted the long-standing relationship between the countries and their monarchies.
At a gala dinner attended by 150 guests at the Imperial Palace in honor of the Spanish royal couple, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, on the first day of their visit to Japan, Akihito said Japan has always been enamored with Spanish culture, including the paintings, music, literature.
Akihito, 82, recalled the first time he visited Spain in 1953 as a 19-year-old as part of a European tour and added that, since then, there have been several visits between the monarchies of both countries.
Akihito recalled his trips to Spain as the crown prince with fondness and spoke of the impressive changes he saw in the country every time he visited.
During his brief address, the emperor also stressed the great courtesy extended by the Spanish king in 2011, while he was still the crown prince, of bestowing on the Heroes of Fukushima the Prince of Asturias Award, months after the earthquake and tsunami of 2011 that hit the northeastern coast of Japan and provoked a nuclear crisis in the country.
Akihito also highlighted the ways in which the two countries have forged ties in recent years in trade relations, investments, culture and education.
The dinner, which the entire Japanese royal family will attend, was the culmination of a day which began with an official welcome for the Spanish royal couple at the palace.