Emperor Naruhito Celebrates 64th Birthday in Egypt with Grand Reception

Emperor Naruhito of Japan, who turned 64 on February 23, 2024, celebrated his birthday in Egypt with a grand reception hosted by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The emperor, accompanied by Empress Masako, arrived in Cairo on February 22 for a three-day state visit, the first by a Japanese monarch to Egypt in over 20 years. The visit aims to strengthen the bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries, especially in the fields of trade, investment, tourism, culture, and education.

The reception, held at the presidential palace in Cairo, was attended by senior officials, diplomats, and dignitaries from both sides. President Sisi welcomed the emperor and empress with a warm speech, praising their contributions to world peace and stability, and expressing his appreciation for Japan’s support for Egypt’s development and reform efforts. He also highlighted the historical and cultural ties that bind the two nations, dating back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Japan.

Emperor Naruhito, in his reply, thanked President Sisi for his hospitality and friendship, and expressed his admiration for Egypt’s rich history and culture. He also reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to enhancing the strategic partnership with Egypt, and supporting its aspirations for a prosperous and democratic future. He said that he hoped his visit would further deepen the mutual understanding and trust between the two peoples, and open new horizons for cooperation and exchange.

A Busy Schedule of Meetings and Events

During his stay in Egypt, Emperor Naruhito had a busy schedule of meetings and events, reflecting the wide range of interests and activities that the two countries share. He met with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Speaker of the House of Representatives Ali Abdel Aal, and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb, and discussed various issues of mutual concern and interest. He also visited the Grand Egyptian Museum, the Cairo Opera House, and the Japanese School in Cairo, and witnessed the signing of several agreements and memoranda of understanding between the two governments and institutions.

One of the highlights of the visit was the emperor’s attendance at the opening ceremony of the Japan-Egypt Business Forum, where he delivered a keynote speech, encouraging the private sector of both countries to explore new opportunities for trade and investment, and to collaborate on innovative solutions for the challenges facing the region and the world. He also praised the achievements of the Egyptian-Japanese Education Partnership, which aims to improve the quality of education in Egypt by introducing the Japanese-style education system and curriculum in some public schools.

Another highlight was the emperor’s visit to the ancient city of Luxor, where he toured the Karnak Temple Complex, the Valley of the Kings, and the Tomb of Tutankhamun, accompanied by renowned Egyptian archaeologist Zahi Hawass. The emperor, who is a scholar of water history and a patron of the World Water Council, also visited the Aswan High Dam and the Nubia Museum, and learned about the water management and conservation projects in Egypt.

A Warm Welcome and Farewell

The emperor’s visit to Egypt was warmly welcomed and widely covered by the Egyptian media and public, who expressed their respect and admiration for the Japanese royal family and their appreciation for Japan’s friendship and assistance. The visit also received positive feedback from the Japanese media and public, who praised the emperor’s diplomatic skills and his efforts to promote Japan’s image and interests abroad.

The visit concluded on February 24, with a farewell ceremony at the Cairo International Airport, where President Sisi and his wife, First Lady Entissar el-Sisi, bid farewell to the emperor and empress, and exchanged gifts and souvenirs. The emperor and empress boarded a special plane, bound for Japan, where they were expected to receive a warm welcome from their people and government.

The visit was hailed as a historic and successful one, that marked a new chapter in the long-standing and friendly relations between Japan and Egypt, and that opened new avenues for cooperation and dialogue in various fields and levels.

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