These days our Royal Hignesses are visiting Japan in the context of the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the diplomatic relationships between Belgium and Japan. It is welknown that our Royal Family has very strong ties with the Imperial Family of Japan. The bound goes back for many years. More precisely we have to go back about 95 years. In 1921 the then Crown Prince Hirohito visited Belgium during his European tour and met our king at that time; King Albert I. Since then a strong bound grew between the two Families. HIM Emperor Akihito and HIM Empress Michiko visited Laken several times as private guests of HRH King Baudouin.
The Crown Prince Naruhito (Hiro) also visited Belgium a few times. HIM Naruhito is the first son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko and thus the first Crown Prince in line. The first time he visited Belgium was in 1976. He was a very young man at that time. He must have been 16 years old at that moment. He also visited Bruges during his stay in that year. That is an important fact for me and Irasshai. At that time, I was 4 years old and lived with my family in Bruges. At that moment there were not so many Japanese people living in Bruges. So when they searched for translators and someone who could communicate with the Crown Prince, they ended up with my father. The result was that my father, but also my mother, my brother and me, were invited to join the reception of the Crown Prince at the city hall of Bruges... So we have a link with Irasshai, myself and the Imperial Family of Japan. This year we could have celebrated the 40th anniversary of our meeting with Crown Prince Hiro, but of course I don't want to be poaching on the territory of the 150th anniversary!