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UPDATED: 20:12, June 08, 2006
Japanese Emperor, Empress start state visit to Singapore
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Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrived in Singapore Thursday for a three-day state visit at the invitation of Singapore President S.R. Nathan.

This is the first state visit by the Emperor and Empress of Japan to Singapore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, adding that they had visited the city state in 1970 and 1981 as Crown Prince and Crown Princess.

According to their schedule, the royal couple will attend a state banquet hosted by President Nathan and meet with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

After their arrival here, the royal couple visited the Japanese Gardens, where they had planted two King Sago Palms during their first visit to Singapore in 1970, Channel NewsAsia report said.

Accompanied by more than 20 officials including Upper House member and former foreign minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, the couple will also visit the National Library.

Bilateral trade between Singapore and Japan exceeded 52 billion Singapore dollars (about 33 billion U.S. dollars) in 2005, making Japan Singapore's sixth largest trading partner.

Source: Xinhua

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