On 27th November, HM Emperor Akihito, HM Empress Michiko, HIH Crown Prince Naruhito and HIH Crown Princess Masako attended the welcoming ceremony for HRH Grand Duke Henri as the State Guest and HRH Princess Alexandra of Luxembourg took place at the East Garden of Imperial Palace.
At the evening, Their Majesties held the Imperial Banquet for them at Imperial Palace.
Remarks by His Majesty the Emperor at the State Banquet in Honour of His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg (November 27, 2017)
Text from Imperial Household Agency
I wish to extend a heartfelt welcome to Your Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, who is visiting our country as a State Guest, together with Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, in this memorable year when we are celebrating the 90th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. I am truly delighted to be able to spend this evening here with you. We regret that Her Royal Highness Grand Duchess Maria Teresa was not able to accompany the Grand Duke this time because of her health. We pray for her good health from the depths of our hearts.
Sixty-four years ago, in 1953, I attended the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. I was 19 years old. It was there that I first met your father, His Royal Highness Jean, former Grand Duke of Luxembourg, who was attending the Coronation as the Hereditary Grand Duke, together with Her Royal Highness Princess Josephine Charlotte.
Subsequently, the former Grand Duke and Grand Duchess have visited Japan a number of times beginning in 1979, including on the occasions of the Funeral of Emperor Showa and my Enthronement Ceremony, and the Empress and I have had the pleasure of seeing them every time they were in our country. Moreover, on each of our two visits to Luxembourg, the Empress and I received warm and gracious hospitality from Their Royal Highnesses former Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine Charlotte, as well as Your Royal Highnesses, who were then the Hereditary Grand Duke and Grand Duchess, and other members of your family. It is our great joy that the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg and the Imperial Family of Japan have enjoyed many years of close friendship in this way.
Your Royal Highness the Grand Duke has shown a strong interest in our country from a young age, and I have been told that you conducted research on Japan during your university years. You have visited Japan many times since your first visit in 1981 as newly-weds with Her Royal Highness Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, and you contributed much to developing the relations between our two countries. I would once again like to express my delight at being able to welcome Your Royal Highness as a State Guest.
Located in the centre of Europe, Luxembourg has endured many trials and tribulations of history but has maintained its independence thanks to the solidarity of its people. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of London, which established Luxembourg as a permanently neutral and unarmed state. In the decades following World War II, your country has consistently assumed an important role in the drive toward European integration. You have also produced many leaders for Europe, including the current President of the European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker.
Furthermore, Luxembourg has successfully made a transition of its industrial structure, from an economy led by the iron and steel industry, which used to be the engine of its economy, to an international financial centre, developing into one of the world’s most affluent welfare states. More recently, it has been diversifying into newer industries, such as information and communications technology, logistics, and space technology. Tomorrow, the Empress and I will be accompanying Your Royal Highness the Grand Duke and Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra on their visit to the Tsukuba Space Centre for a tour of its facilities.
Diplomatic relations between Luxembourg and Japan began in 1927, when Mineichiro Adachi, the first Minister of Japan to Luxembourg, presented his credentials to Grand Duchess Charlotte, Your Royal Highness’s grandmother, and over the 90 years since then, our two countries have developed friendly and cooperative relations. In recent years, in addition to political and economic relations, bilateral exchanges have been expanding by leaps and bounds in the areas of academics, culture, and tourism, including exchanges between the University of Luxembourg and universities in Japan. It gives me great pleasure to see that mutual understanding has been deepening further between the peoples of our two countries.
We are now approaching the end of autumn here in Japan, and trees are ablaze with autumn colours. I hope that the stay of Your Royal Highness the Grand Duke and Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra in Japan will be a most memorable one that serves to further promote the friendly and cooperative relations between our two countries.
I would now like to propose a toast to the good health of Your Royal Highness the Grand Duke, and to the happiness of the people of Luxembourg.
HIH Crown Prince Naruhito and HIH Crown Princess Masako
HIH Princess Mako of Akishino