India to Host Japanese Emperor
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

India to Host Japanese Emperor


At the end of the month, India will be hosting Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan in what will be the first ever official visit to India of a sitting Japanese monarch. The visit will begin on the November 30 and conclude on December 6. The Japanese imperial couple has been to India before – they visited in 1960 for their honeymoon as the then-Crown Prince and Princess of Japan. This time, the couple are visiting at the invitation of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs, who will be coordinating the visit, issued a statement saying that “The visit will immeasurably expand and strengthen the India-Japan Strategic & Global Partnership.”

The visit is greatly anticipated in India and is being widely reported across the media. It has prompted some political commentators to reflect on the India-Japan bilateral relationship in terms of their ancient civilizational linkages – something that Indian and Japanese diplomats often refer to in their rhetoric. For example, Sanjaya Baru, in a column on the visit for The Indian Express, writes “Both India and Japan must avoid the temptation and the trap of viewing their bilateral relationship merely from the contemporary prism of the world we live in now, and remind themselves that their relationship is based on the firm foundations of an ancient civilisational link. … One would imagine that this is the message that the emperor and empress of Japan would want to convey to their Indian hosts.”

Although the Emperor of Japan is a purely ceremonial actor under the contemporary Japanese constitution (which describes him as “the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people”), the visit is sure to galvanize positive public opinion toward the bilateral relationship in India. Domestic politics have not generally been a setback for India-Japan ties, which have have grown considerably since Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori’s landmark visit to New Delhi in 2000. The relationship enjoys strong support across the political spectrum in both India and Japan.

The visit also comes a couple of months ahead of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s planned visit to India in January, likely as the chief guest of honor at India’s Republic Day celebrations. India and Japan conduct annual visits with each other at the head of government level. Abe’s last visit was notable for his path-breaking “Confluence of the Two Seas” at the Parliament of India, in which he set forth a vision for a major Indian and Japanese role in the future security architecture of the Asia-Pacific region. Abe has made his appreciation for India known regularly, often fondly recalling Indian Judge Radhabinod Pal – the sole dissenting judge at the Military Tribunal for the Far East’s trial of Japanese war criminals. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh traveled to Tokyo in May 2013.

Relations between Japan and India – thought not without their trials – have been remarkably warm in the 21st century. India – which has traditionally been non-aligned and eschewed alliances – has marked Japan as a major strategic partner in Asia. Japan, despite its reservations about India’s nuclear posture, has engaged India along economic and security lines – even symbolically ending its self-imposed ban on the export of defense equipment in the case of India. Although diplomats remain hesitant to publicly comment on the role of China in driving the relationship, India and Japan both have territorial disputes with China.

November 24, 2013 at 07:27

@Mazo, right now Japan is under US rule, so Japan may be considered a US colony. The Japanese emperor cannot make any major decision without US approval. I also don’t remember reading about “multiple acquisitions” by this emperor. There was one attempt by Japan in the 1930s-40s, which ended in Japanese surrender. Perhaps Japanese textbooks are teaching something different?

November 27, 2013 at 06:52

Ever hear of the First Sino-Japanese war when Emperor Meiji TOOK the Korean peninsula and Taiwan ?? How about the Japanese invasions of Korea during the Sengoku period ?

December 5, 2013 at 11:13

Ever heard of the nuclear explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

November 23, 2013 at 09:18

Yes, we Japanese will never stop appreciating Judge Radhabinod Pal. India is a truth seeker and trusted partner for Japan.

December 5, 2013 at 11:11

India is certainly better than the US in seeking truth. That’s why India objected to US military operation against Libya and Syria. Why didn’t Japan do the same? Because it’s a US colony / lapdog?

November 23, 2013 at 08:31


Touche sir, touche.

November 22, 2013 at 16:28

The Japanese, as Singapore Godfather Lee Kwan Yew acerbically remarked, are proud to be honorary members of the West. Just look at the empress hat, she could almost passed as a member of the British royal family! The Indians, on the other hand, are famously insecure and constantly needs the approval of the West. So the two should make good partners as Japan can be counted as a pseudo west. The problem is that the Desi are just too damn dark for the taste of the Japanese.

December 1, 2013 at 01:58

spot on dude,just look at japanese anime characters and India’s bent with fairness

November 22, 2013 at 10:23

@keys – Well the Japanese emperor already acquired China many times in the past – never finding it worthwhile in the long run. Perhaps India would offer a better fit.

November 22, 2013 at 07:15

I wonder if the Japanese emperor may be interested acquiring India as a colony in return for military and economic assistance.

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