Tokyo: Visiting US President Donald Trump on Monday made history by becoming the first world leader to meet Japan’s newly enthroned Emperor Naruhito.
At the Imperial Palace here, the Emperor and Empress Masako received Trump and First Lady Melania amid a prevailing festive mood over the start of Reiwa Era, which began when Naruhito ascended the throne on May 1 after his father, Akihito stepped down on April 30 to end his three-decade reign, reports Kyodo News Agency.
It was the first abdication by a Japanese monarch in over 200 years.
“Nice to meet you,” said both the emperor and the empress in English in meeting the Trumps, according to the Imperial Household Agency.
The Imperial couple and the Trumps shook hands and exchanged greetings without using interpreters before walking along a red carpet in the courtyard of the palace to attend the welcoming ceremony, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie and other royal family members also participated in.
In the outdoor ceremony, Trump and the First Lady stood on a platform as the national anthems of the two countries were performed and also received a guard of honour.
The Trumps then held a formal meeting with the Imperial couple inside the palace.
The Japanese government decided to hand Trump the honour of being the first state guest of the new era in hopes of showcasing the depth of the nations’ bilateral alliance, according to Kyodo.
Abe is also extending extra hospitality to Trump during his four-day state visit through Tuesday, which the former has described as “historic”.
Trump will hold a summit with Abe and participate in a banquet at the palace later Monday.
Trump is staying three nights in Japan as a state guest, one night more than his predecessor Barack Obama did in 2014. Trump visited Japan in November 2017, less than a year after he moved into the White House, and met then Emperor Akihito as an official guest.
On Sunday, Trump played a round of golf with Abe, witnessed a sumo wrestling tournament where he handed out the awards to the winner and ended his day with a hibachi dinner that included grilled Wagyu beef and vanilla ice cream.