Japan's Emperor Naruhito, PM Kishida may attend Queen Elizabeth's funeral

It will be Emperor Naruhito's (left) first overseas trip since acceding the throne in 2019. PM Fumio Kishida may also attend. PHOTOS: REUTERS, EPA-EFE

TOKYO - Japan's Emperor Naruhito plans to attend the funeral of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, while Prime Minister Fumio Kishida may also attend, Japanese media said.

It would be Naruhito's first overseas trip since acceding to the throne in May 2019.

Empress Masako has also expressed a wish to attend, and the Japanese government is arranging their trip, NTV, TBS and other media said on Friday, citing government sources.

Mr Kishida is considering attending the funeral, which Britain says will be held in a little over a week, before visiting New York for the United Nations General Assembly late in the month, TV Asahi reported on Saturday.

US President Joe Biden has said he will attend the funeral of Britain's longest-reigning monarch.

The Prime Minister's Office and Imperial Household Agency could not immediately be reached outside business hours for comment on the reports.

The British royals and Japan's imperial family have longstanding ties. The emperor had been invited to Britain by the queen in 2020, but the trip was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Queen Elizabeth, who visited Japan in 1975 to meet then-Emperor Hirohito, made a "great contribution" towards strengthening Japan's ties with Britain, Kishida said on Friday.

Also offering condolences, Naruhito, who studied at Oxford University in the 1980s, was "deeply saddened" by the queen's death, the Imperial Household Agency said. Masako also studied at Oxford.

The emperor and empress went into three days of mourning on Friday as they were feeling "deep grief and heartfelt condolences", the agency announced.

It is rare for a Japanese emperor to attend a royal funeral overseas.

In 1993, then-Emperor Akihito, now emperor emeritus, attended the state funeral of King Baudouin of Belgium with then-Empress Michiko. REUTERS

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