PM Lee to attend lunch hosted by Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) shaking hands with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Dec 13, 2013. PM Lee will be hosted to lunch on Tuesday by Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left) shaking hands with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Dec 13, 2013. PM Lee will be hosted to lunch on Tuesday by Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

TOKYO - Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who begins a four-day official visit to Tokyo on Monday (Sept 26), will be hosted to lunch on Tuesday by Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, the Imperial Household Agency said in a statement.

The royal couple last hosted Mr Lee to tea in March 2007.

Mr Lee's trip marks 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. He will receive from Mr Abe Japan's top honour for a foreign dignitary on behalf of Singapore's late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March last year.

Japan has posthumously awarded Mr Lee the prestigious Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers to recognise his contributions to the development of bilateral relations over several decades.

This is the second award Japan has conferred on Mr Lee, who in 1967 received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, in announcing the award in February: "Mr Lee strived to strengthen relations with Japan and was successful in building a friendship between the two nations."

Other dignitaries who have received the award include former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh.

 

Mr Abe will present the award to PM Lee at a bilateral summit meeting on Wednesday, and will host a banquet for Mr Lee and the Singapore delegation.

The trip reinforces the robust economic and people-to-people ties between the two nations.

Singapore is Japan's top Asian foreign direct investor, while Japan was Singapore's eighth-largest trading partner and second- largest foreign direct investor.

Last year, nearly 800,000 Japanese tourists visited Singapore, while more than 300,000 Singaporeans - or about one in 10 citizens - went to Japan.

During his trip, PM Lee will meet Japanese political and business leaders. He will also deliver a keynote speech at a special session of the 22nd Nikkei International Conference on The Future Of Asia, held by Japanese publisher Nikkei.

The late Mr Lee used to attend the annual conference, and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong gave a speech at this year's event, which was held in May.

PM Lee will also meet Singaporeans who are living in Japan at a National Day reception.

waltsim@sph.com.sg