Emperor greets visiting foreign dignitaries

NHK -- Jul 24
Emperor Naruhito has welcomed foreign dignitaries visiting Japan to attend the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.

French President Emmanuel Macron and US first lady Jill Biden were among the 12 dignitaries from 11 countries who visited the Imperial Palace on Friday.

The Emperor addressed the guests in English at the Shunju-no-Ma Grand Hall.

The Emperor said he has "a lasting memory of the closing ceremony of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics where athletes from different countries paraded together shoulder to shoulder, not divided by country." He said "this became the source of my wish for world peace."

The Emperor expressed the hope that the "Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will remind us of the spirit of Olympism, peace and harmony, and that we will relay the torch of that spirit to the future."

Imperial household officials say the Emperor later chatted with each of the guests at the Matsukaze-no-Ma Drawing Room.

The event was brief and held without food or drink because of the coronavirus pandemic. When Japan hosted the Olympics previously, the Imperial couple hosted parties for the visiting dignitaries.

Emperor Naruhito is the honorary patron of the Tokyo Games. He is due to attend the opening ceremony on Friday evening, and declare the start of the Olympics.