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Celebration of the Imperial Accession to the Throne in Tokyo with Van der Bellen

Published: October 21, 2019; 20:46 · (Vindobona)

President Van der Bellen takes part in the ceremony for the accession of the new "Tenno", Emperor Naruhito, to the throne in Tokyo and in the bilateral economic forum "Austria Connect Japan". Other items on the agenda include talks with the Presidents of Georgia and Estonia.

Alexander Van der Bellen was received in Yanaka's Old Town by a group of students waving Japanese and Austrian flags. / Picture: © Österreichische Präsidentschaftskanzlei / Peter Lechner/HBF

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen opens Habsburg art exhibition in Tokyo At the opening of the exhibition "The Habsburg Dynasty: 600 Years of Imperial Collections" with exhibits from the KHM - Kunsthistorisches Museum - Museum of Art History, Federal President Van der Bellen also commemorates the 150th anniversary of bilateral relations between Japan and Austria.

The 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Austria could not be more appropriately celebrated than with an exhibition by the KHM in Tokyo.

In 1869 the two empires (Japan and Austria-Hungary) established contacts. In addition, Japan participated for the first time in 1873 in a world exhibition held in Vienna at the time. The result was a "wave of enthusiasm", which was then called "Japonism", explained the Federal President in the presence of the Director of the Museum of Western Art, Akiko Mabuchi, and the Director General of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Sabine Haag.

The appreciation of Austrian art is more pronounced in Japan than in few other countries.

The KHM contributed the majority of the exhibits to the exhibition, which comprises a collection of the Habsburg dynasty from six centuries. In this context, Alexander Van der Bellen recalled that this was not a collection of Austrian art, but rather of European art. After all, the Habsburg family would have established contacts far beyond Austria, said the Federal President. "After the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain and Latin America, but perhaps we'd better not. He also recalled Emperor Charles V, in whose empire the sun literally did not set. The exhibits were thus also an expression of a "Europe united in diversity, which was awakened in a different form in the present".

Later, the Federal President was received in Yanaka's Old Town by a group of students waving Japanese and Austrian flags. Yanaka is one of the few districts of Tokyo that survived the Second World War largely undamaged. More than half of Tokyo was destroyed by American incendiary bombs. Because of its numerous sanctuaries, the quarter is also called "temple city". "Tea Ceremony" for the Federal President in the Temple City Kamakura - Sightseeing in Yokohama Kamakura was once regarded as the "Mecca of Samurais", as the Federal President learned at a tea ceremony at the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine.

Kamakura had been Japan's seat of government from 1185 to 1333. That is why the Samurais, the knights and swordsmen of pre-industrial Japan, had one of their strongholds here. The city is famous for numerous well-preserved Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines from that epoch.

Federal President Van der Bellen opened economic forum in Tokyo At the opening of the "Austria Connect Japan" economic forum in Tokyo, Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen drew attention to the importance of the free trade agreement between the EU and Japan that entered into force in February. This could also help to expand bilateral trade between Austria and Japan, said a hopeful Van der Bellen.

The world economy is confronted with new challenges, the Federal President commented in obvious allusion to the punitive tariff policy of US President Donald Trump, without mentioning it directly. "We see protectionism in countries that used to advocate a free market."

The fact that Austria and Japan are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year is an occasion to expand this friendship, said the Federal President. Vienna is not only the seat of important international organisations such as the UN, OPEC and OSCE, but also a starting point for trade relations with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkan region, the 75-year-old recalled.

Since 1 February, the EU and Japan have formed the largest free trade area in the world. The aim of the free trade agreement is to dismantle customs duties and other trade barriers almost completely. With an annual trade volume of almost four billion euros, Japan is by far Austria's second most important economic partner in Asia after China, according to the Chamber of Commerce.

Van der Bellen visited an exhibition of "Wien Products". The exhibition, organized by Walter Ruck, President of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, presents typical products from the federal capital that are also available in Japan.

Van der Bellen therefore reminded the visitors that the Japanese Princess Kako had visited the Palais Augarten and the Vienna Boys Choir during her visit to Vienna. Her uncle, Japan's new emperor Naruhito, is considered a great fan of the Vienna Boys Choir.

The Federal President also visited the "Smart Energy Network Park Tamachi" and the historic garden "Hama Rikyu" ("Imperial Garden of the Hama Residence").

The programme also includes a reception for the participants of the AUSTRIA CONNECT and members of the embassy in the residence of the Austrian ambassador.

Al highlight follows finally the participation in the ceremony to the throne ascent (Sokuirei silk no-gi) in the imperial palace in Tokyo.

Bilateral talks with the President of Georgia, Salome Zourabichvili, and the President of the Republic of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, conclude the visit.