Japan prince honours Spain’s samurai past


CORIA DEL RIO, Spain (AFP) - Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito on Friday honoured a 17th-century samurai who established the first ties between his country and Spain 400 years ago, in a small town where to this day hundreds of local Spaniards bear the name “Japon”.

Prince Naruhito, the 53-year-old son and heir of Emperor Akihito, planted a cherry tree next to a statue where the samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga stands immortalised, sword on hip, in a bronze statue overlooking the green water of the Guadalquivir River.

Seventeenth-century Coria was a key stopping point for merchant ships from around the world heading to nearby Seville, a hub of the mighty Spanish empire.

In 1613, samurai Hasekura led a Japanese delegation that left for Europe and arrived in Coria a year later. Some of the Japanese delegation are believed to have stayed on after he left in 1620.