Friday, 30 September 2016

Emperor Akihito hosts PM Lee Hsien Loong to lunch

Japanese Emperor Akihito & Empress Michiko seeing off PM Lee & Mrs Lee after their private lunch at the Imperial Palace yesterday. PM Lee is in Tokyo for a 4-day official visit that started on Monday, to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries. FOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong & Mrs Lee were hosted to a private lunch by Japan's royal couple at their home in the Imperial Palace yesterday, a rare occasion that signifies the robust ties between Singapore & Japan.

They met Emperor Akihito & Empress Michiko for about 2 hours - half an hour longer than the scheduled time.

The royal couple last formally hosted PM Lee to tea in March 2007. PM Lee also had an audience with the Emperor in 2013

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PM Lee meets Japanese Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko
Their Majesties Emperor Akihito & Empress Michiko hosted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong & Mrs Lee to a private lunch at their residence in Tokyo, Japan on Sep 27, 2016. (Foto: MCI)

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong & Mrs Lee met Japanese Emperor Akihito & Empress Michiko on Tuesday (Sep 27), as part of his 4-day official visit to Japan.

Mr Lee last met the 82-year-old Emperor in 2013. He was also hosted to tea by Emperor Akihito & Empress Michiko while on a 2007 official visit.

On Tuesday, Mr Lee a& Mrs Lee were hosted to a private lunch at the Imperial couple’s residence within the Imperial Palace grounds. The meeting lasted about two hours.

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Mrs Lee Hsien Loong pens poem about bag she carried to meet Japan's royal couple
S'pore PM Lee Hsien Loong & his wife Ho Ching are seen off by Japanese Emperor Akihito & Empress Michiko after their luncheon at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's wife Ho Ching made international headlines in August when she showed up at the White House toting a $14.90 dinosaur-print pouch designed by an autistic student artist.

Her accessory choice during PM Lee's recent official visit to Japan is once again a talking point, after she wrote a poem sharing the heartwarming story behind the bag she carried to a private lunch at the Imperial Palace with Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Tuesday (Sep 27).

Mrs Lee posted on FaceBook on Sunday (Oct 2) morning explaining that the bag had been at a previous meeting with the Japanese royal couple - albeit in the hands of another woman, who died a couple of years ago.

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So polite, their royal highness
Dakara, teinei, sono denka だから、丁寧、その殿下

A look at Japanese the lifestyle and customs
The "saikeirei", "keirei", "eshaku" bow

In the Japanese bow, the bower expresses appreciation and respect to the person being bowed to by bending at the waist.

This is a gesture widely used in tandem with greetings like "ohayo gozaimasu" (good morning) and "konnichi wa" (hello, good afternoon) as well as words of gratitude or apology.

Bows can generally be classified into three types depending on the deepness of the waist bend:
  • The most casual bow is the "eshaku" bow 会釈えしゃく. In this bow, the waist is generally bent at about a 15 degree angle. It is common to lightly dip the head and give an "eshaku" bow when exchanging a casual greeting or passing by someone of a higher social status. Of course using words by themselves is sufficient, but if you add an eshaku bow while saying "arigato" (thank you) to someone who has shown you kindness, your feeling of gratitude will come across as incredibly more heartfelt.
  • The bow generally used in business interactions is the "keirei" bow 敬礼けいれい. In this bow, the torso is lowered to about 30 degrees. It is used when entering and leaving reception rooms and meeting rooms and when greeting customers.
  • The "saikeirei" bow 最敬礼さいけいれい, the most polite bow, consists of lowering the torso about 45 degrees. It is used to express feelings of deep gratitude or apology.