President Didier Burkhalter welcomed Crown Prince Naruhito at the DuPeyrou Hôtel in Neuchâtel. Following the national anthems and the presentation of military honours, the Japanese and Swiss delegations held a twenty-minute meeting followed by an official luncheon.
During their meeting President Burkhalter and his guest stressed the excellent relations and the many partnerships that exist between Switzerland and Japan. This year the two countries are celebrating the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations. The President of the Swiss Confederation and the Crown Prince are joint patrons of the jubilee year celebrations.
President Burkhalter travelled to Japan in February to mark the official start of the 150th anniversary. During his visit Mr Burkhalter held meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. He was also granted an audience with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.
Mr Burkhalter met Crown Prince Naruhito on that occasion, too. The Crown Prince thanked Switzerland for its solidarity following the earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan in 2011. At the time Switzerland sent humanitarian aid experts and rescue dogs to take part in search efforts.
After the official luncheon President Burkhalter and the Crown Prince visited the Ethnographic Museum in Neuchâtel where they viewed an exhibition dedicated to the history of relations between Switzerland and Japan. Beforehand they were given a warm welcome by local children dressed in aikido dresses. The children will travel to Japan in the autumn as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations to hone their skills in this Japanese martial art.
Official relations between Switzerland and Japan date back to the middle of the 19th century. In 1862 the Federal Council conferred on Aimé Humbert-Droz, a member of the Council of States and president of the ‘Union horlogère’, the title of minister plenipotentiary and sent him on a mission to Japan to negotiate a treaty. Mr Humbert-Droz travelled to Japan in 1863 and a treaty of amity and trade was signed in February 1864. That event marked the beginning of flourishing trade between the two countries. Numerous Swiss firms subsequently set up business in Japan. Switzerland has had a diplomatic representation in Tokyo since 1906.
Special page of the official visit
Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Japan
Speech by the President of the Swiss Confederation Didier Burkhalter
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