TOKYO Ė The Japanese Emperor and Empress received Belgiumís King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, who are on a state visit to the country to mark 150 years of bilateral relations, at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The Belgian royal couple, who arrived in Japan on Oct. 8, in what is their first visit to the country in their present positions, have now begun the official agenda of the visit set to last until Oct. 14.
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko hosted a welcoming ceremony for the Belgian monarchs, also attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Aki, the countryís Imperial Household Agency said.
Japanís Crown Prince Naruhito also attended the ceremony with his wife Princess Masako, in what was her first appearance at such an event since October 2014.
The Japanese Emperor is expected to hold a State banquet in honor of the visiting pair, who may also attend a meeting and dinner with Japanese leader Abe and his wife.
On Wednesday, the Belgian royals will travel to the city of Yuki, in Ibaraki prefecture northeast of Tokyo accompanied by their Japanese counterparts to attend a demonstration of traditional fabric weaving.
The royal families of the two countries have strengthened ties since Emperor Akihito met King Baudouin I during his visit to Europe and the United States in 1953 as heir apparent.
In 1993, the Japanese monarchs attended the funeral of the-then Belgian king while Empress Michiko was present at the funeral of Queen Fabiola in December 2014.