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Japan's emperor says he looks forward to deepening ties with Britain's royals during UK visit

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Japan's emperor says he looks forward to deepening ties with Britain's royals during UK visit
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Japan's emperor says he looks forward to deepening ties with Britain's royals during UK visit

2024-06-20 15:09 Last Updated At:15:10

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Emperor Naruhito said Wednesday he is “delighted” to finally be able to visit Britain after the trip was delayed by several years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he looks forward to rekindling his friendship with the British royal family and exploring Oxford, where he studied about 40 years ago.

Naruhito and his wife, Empress Masako, will make a weeklong visit to Britain starting Saturday. The trip was originally planned for 2020 at the invitation of the late Queen Elizabeth II as the first of his overseas visits after his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019.

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Japan's Emperor Naruhito walks to address a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Emperor Naruhito said Wednesday he is “delighted” to finally be able to visit Britain after the trip was delayed by several years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he looks forward to rekindling his friendship with the British royal family and exploring Oxford, where he studied about 40 years ago.

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, center, speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, center, speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, center, behind, attends a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, center, behind, attends a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito attends a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito attends a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

“I'm truly delighted to be able to make a visit to Britain this time,” Naruhito told reporters ahead of the June 22-29 trip. The emperor said he regretted that they could not make the trip while Queen Elizabeth was alive.

“Through our upcoming visit, I would like to reflect on the long history of exchanges fostered between Japan and Britain,” Naruhito said. He hoped to nurture the friendship with King Charles III and Queen Camilla and other members of Britain's royal family, and boost relations between the two sides through meetings and exchanges.

Naruhito thanked King Charles III for accommodating the visit while he recovers from cancer treatment. He wished both Charles and Catherine, the Princess of Wales, who is also undergoing cancer treatment, a speedy recovery.

Japan’s imperial family has had close relations with Britain’s royal family for three generations starting from his grandfather, late Emperor Hirohito.

Naruhito acknowledged that there had been difficult times when Japan and Britain fought on opposing sides during World War II, but he said Japan has since focused on peace and prosperity on the global stage. Japan and Britain have developed strong ties in areas from the economy to science and technology and culture, he said.

The trip includes a visit to Oxford University, where both he and Masako studied separately before their marriage. Naruhito said he looks forward to returning to Oxford and exploring the city with his wife together for the first time.

Naruhito researched the 18th-century Thames River transport system while at Merton College from 1983 to 1985.

The emperor recalled the late queen serving him tea at Buckingham Palace when he visited London in 1983. He also fondly remembered being invited to a barbecue with the queen and other royals, and going fly fishing in Scotland with then-Prince Charles.

During his upcoming trip, Naruhito will visit the Thames Barrier, pay respects to the grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abby, lay flowers at the tombs of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at the King George VI Chapel in Windsor, and visit the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, among other activities.

The couple has a relatively relaxed schedule in part due to considerations for Masako, who is still recovering from the stress-induced conditions she developed soon after she giving birth to the couple’s only child, Princess Aiko and amid pressure to have a son to continue Japan’s male-only imperial succession.

Japan's Emperor Naruhito walks to address a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito walks to address a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, center, speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, center, speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, center, behind, attends a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito, center, behind, attends a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito attends a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito attends a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

Japan's Emperor Naruhito speaks during a press conference at the Imperial Palace in advance of his visit to Britain, Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

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Student protesters vow 'complete shutdown' in Bangladesh as clashes continue

2024-07-18 18:09 Last Updated At:18:10

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Police clashed Thursday with student protesters attempting to impose a “complete shutdown” in Bangladesh’s capital, following days of violent confrontations during demonstrations over a system of allocating government jobs.

Students have been demonstrating for weeks against a quota system for government jobs they say favors allies of the ruling party, but the protests have escalated since violence broke out between protesters, police and pro-government student activists on the campus of Dhaka University on Monday. Six people were killed on Tuesday, leading the government to ask universities across the country to close and police to raid the main opposition party’s headquarters.

As violence continued to take place on Thursday, Bangladesh’s Law Minister Anisul Huq said in the afternoon that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked him to sit with the protesters for a dialogue, and he was ready to sit down on Thursday if protesters were willling.

On Wednesday night, the protesters announced they would enforce “a complete shutdown” across the country on Thursday in response to security officials’ continued attacks on the campus demonstrators. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party said that it would do what it could to make the shutdown a success.

Clashes continued as protesters attempted to enforce the shutdown Thursday morning. In Dhaka's Uttara neighborhood, hundreds of protesters were chased by police after they blocked the road and chanted. In other places, police fired tear gas and charged with batons disperse the protesters, who threw stones in response. Scores, including police, were injured in the violence, said a spokesperson for the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

Police said protesters attacked and set fire to a traffic police box and vandalized police vehicles amid clashes across the city.

Traffic was thin on Dhaka's usually clogged streets on Thursday morning, while many malls closed. Offices and banks opened, but commuters complained that transport was limited. Police set up checkpoints at the entrances to Dhaka University.

Local television reported violence in other cities including Chattogram and Khulna, while protesters also blocked some major highways.

Salma Rahman, an official at a financial institution in Dhaka, said that she left her car at home and caught a ride on a motorcycle. “Our office has alerted us to stay safe on streets, as there is fear that violence could happen during the shutdown.”

Protesters are demanding an end to a quota system that reserves up to 30% of government jobs for family members of veterans who fought in Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971. They argue that the system is discriminatory and benefits supporters of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, whose Awami League party led the independence movement, and they want it replaced with a merit-based system.

Hasina’s government halted the quotas after mass student protests in 2018. But last month, Bangladesh’s High Court nullified that decision and reinstated the quotas after relatives of the 1971 veterans filed petitions, triggering the latest demonstrations. The Supreme Court then suspended the High Court’s ruling and is expected to rule on Aug. 7. The government has also appealed the High Court decision in the wake of the protest, according to the attorney general's office.

Huq said the government was seeking an early hearing.

“I have already asked the attorney general to appeal in the Supreme Court on Sunday seeking early hearing,” he told reporters. The Supreme Court had earlier set Aug. 7 to make decision on the quota issue. Friday and Saturday are parts of the weekend in Bangladesh. The court opens Sunday.

“I am requesting all to wait with patience until the verdict is delivered,” Hasina said in a televised address Wednesday evening. “I believe our students will get justice from the apex court. They will not be disappointed.”

While job opportunities have expanded in Bangladesh’s private sector, many people prefer government jobs because they are stable and well paid. Each year, some 400,000 graduates compete for 3,000 jobs in the civil service exam.

Hasina said there would be a judicial probe into Tuesday's deaths and vowed that those responsible would be brought to justice.

“Some precious lives have been lost unnecessarily,” she said. “I condemn every killing.”

U.N. Human Rights chief Volker Türk said in a post on the social media platform X that all acts of violence and deadly use of force must be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable. Türk said freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental human rights.

Bangladesh’s ruling party blamed the BNP for the chaos, and Dhaka police raided the party’s headquarters late Tuesday. Detective Chief Harun-or-Rashid said police arrested seven members of the party’s student wing, and said detectives found 100 crude bombs, 500 wooden and bamboo sticks, and five to six bottles of gasoline in the raid.

Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, a senior BNP leader, said the raid was a government attempt to divert attention from the protests.

Students advocating for quota reform in public service held a mock funeral at Dhaka University in memory of those who died during clashes, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Students advocating for quota reform in public service held a mock funeral at Dhaka University in memory of those who died during clashes, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Police fire tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse students shouting slogans in favor of quota system in public service at the university campus, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Police fire tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse students shouting slogans in favor of quota system in public service at the university campus, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Police fire tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse students shouting slogans in favor of quota system in public service at the university campus, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

Police fire tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse students shouting slogans in favor of quota system in public service at the university campus, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajib Dhar)

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