The President warmly welcomed the Emperor and Empress of Japan to India and conveyed that the people and Government of India feel honoured by their visit.
He said it was wonderful to have them back in the Rashtrapati Bhavan after 52 years and that memories of their earlier visit as Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan in 1960 are still fresh in the minds of the people of India, who hold them in the highest esteem.
The President said India deeply values and attaches the highest importance to its close friendship with Japan, which is based on a strong foundation of mutual respect and admiration.
"Our civilizational ties go back over a millennium. Buddhism is a sacred link. India and Japan have had academic and scholarly exchanges since ancient times. Both countries are presently collaborating in the revival of the Nalanda University," Mukherjee said.
The President later hosted a banquet in honour of the visiting dignitaries.
In his banquet speech, President Mukherjee said the presence of the Emperor and Empress of Japan in India was a historic milestone in bilateral relations, heralding a further deepening of the time-tested friendship, solidarity and co-operation that have always characterized relations between India and Japan.
He also recollected on the occasion the great sons of India - Swami Vivekananda, Jamshedji Tata, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Rash Behari Bose and Judge Radha Binod Pal - who have contributed to strengthening the bonds of friendship.
He said the India-Japan partnership is based on the bedrock of shared values of democracy, the rule of law and individual rights.
"It symbolizes our mutual quest for the progress and prosperity of our people. India and Japan also share a vision of promoting peace and stability, and the two countries stand united in the dream of a new Asia full of promise and opportunities. Both countries relationship today goes beyond the bilateral as we cement together a truly global partnership with converging strategic interests," Mukherjee added.
He said the visit will give an impetus to the efforts of our two countries and peoples to engage, take new initiatives and elevate the relationship to even greater heights.
Speaking at the welcome banquet, Emperor Akihito said it was a great pleasure for the Empress and him to visit India on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and India.
He thanked the Parliament of India on behalf of the people of Japan for paying tribute to Japan's atomic bomb victims in August every year and expressed his hope that their current visit will help to further deepen the mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries and further strengthen the bonds of trust and friendship.
--ANI (Posted on 03-12-2013)