New Delhi: Japan's Emperor Akihito will pay a week-long state visit to India starting Nov 30. He will be accompanied by his wife, a spokesperson of the Japanese embassy in India said on Tuesday.
"In view of the friendly relations existing between the two countries, the government of Japan has advised their majesties the emperor and empress to pay an official visit to India this year. The itinerary of the visit will be finalised based upon consultations with the Indian government," a decision of the Japanese cabinet said.
"Their majesties are scheduled to leave Tokyo on November 30, and the duration of the visit will be about one week," it added.
The visit by the Japanese royal couple follows the visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (May 27-30) this year for a bilateral summit with Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe.
"Japan has long enjoyed close and cordial relations with India. I am convinced that, through the visit, existing intimate relations of friendship and goodwill with India will be further strengthened, for which I would like to share my immense pleasure with the people of Japan," Abe said in a statement following on Tuesday's announcement of the emperor's visit.
Attaching importance to ties between Japan and India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was accorded special treatment in Tokyo during his three-day official visit to Japan.
The emperor and empress of Japan hosted lunch for Manmohan Singh and his wife, Gursharan Kaur, at the Imperial Palace.
"This was very much extra-ordinary," a senior functionary of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's office said.
"This is not usual. Their majesties do not host non-heads of states. Technically, the Indian prime minister is not India's head of state. But in his case, they have done that," he said.
"My wife and I were deeply honoured by the special gesture of their majesties in hosting us," Manmohan Singh said after the lunch with the Japanese royalty.
The Japanese government has also attached a lot of importance to their head of state's visit to India later this year.
"The proposed visit of the emperor and the empress later this year to India is significant, given their age (which restricts their travel). Nothing indicates more importantly of the significance of the bilateral relationship of both countries," an official added.
In Tokyo, the Japanese prime minister had hosted a private dinner for Manmohan Singh and his wife.
Japanese officials described the dinner meeting as "the most relaxed and casual meeting that Prime Minister Abe had ever since taking over."