New Delhi: Japan on Saturday described as "non political" the visit of its Emperor Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko here and said the six-day India trip, the first to any South Asian country by the royal couple, was not aimed at "countering" China.
"The visit should not be interpreted as an effort to counter China. There is no intention whatsoever to counter China through the visit political significance. The visit is non-political," Sakutaro Tanino, Press Secretary to the Emperor, said.
The Emperor and Empress arrived here today and were received by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur at the at the Air Force Station at Palam, in a departure from the usual protocol.
Tanino said Japan was "touched" by Singh`s gesture to receive the Royal Couple at the airport and said the his country wants relations to deepen further.
In recent times, such a departure from protocol has been done only thrice before by Prime Minister Singh for US Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama, and Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
"We were very touched by Prime Minister`s gesture. We know he wants the relations between the two countries to grow further," Tanino, who is part of the Emperor`s delegation of 50 that included former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, said.
The visit, which comes 53 years after couple`s trip to India as Crown Prince and Crown Princess in 1960, is first by an Emperor and Empress of Japan to any South Asian country.
Asked what message will go to China from the visit, the official said it was for Beijing what they will think about the trip. He added that Japan has been having a "difficult relationship" with China.
Asked whether Japan will do business with Narendra Modi if he becomes Prime Minister, Tanino shot back saying "is there any other option".