Queen Elizabeth II is planning out her 2020 schedule. Among several important royal engagements, one of the most significant is the one with the royal family from Japan. Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan have accepted the queen's invitation and will be hosted at the Buckingham Palace.

This remains one of the most important state visit from a foreign dignitary for the British royal family in the year 2020. The visit will take place sometime in spring.

"Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan have accepted an invitation from Her Majesty The Queen to pay a State Visit to the United Kingdom in Spring 2020. Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress (Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako) will stay at Windsor Castle," reads the official statement as released by the palace.

"The relationship between our country's imperial family and Britain's royal family has played an important role in fostering strong ties between both of our countries," Japan's chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said.

This happens to be one of the rare occasions when Masako will be taking a trip overseas as she has been in convalescence from what is described as "stress-induced illness."

According to Hello, the state visit from the monarch of Japan will be the third since the 1970s. Emperor Showa (Hirohito) and Empress Kojun (Nagako) arrived in October 1971 for a state visit. It was followed by Emperor Emeritus (Akihito) and the Empress Emerita (Michiko) in 1998. Apart from these, the queen has hosted Japanese royals on several other occasions including an evening for Emperor Emeritus and Empress Emerita during their three-day visit to the UK in 2007 and the queen's diamond jubilee in 2012.

Enthronement of Emperor Naruhito
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe led the guests in three cheers of "Banzai!" or "Long live the Emperor". Photo: Japanese Government / Handout

As for Japan, on many occasions, they have also extended hospitality to British royals. In May 1975, the queen was joined by her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh for a state visit to Japan when Hirohito was on the throne. Meanwhile, Prince William made his first visit to Japan in February 2015. Recently, in October 2019, Prince Charles undertook a two-day visit on the behalf of the queen to attend Japan's Emperor Naruhito's ritual-laden enthronement ceremony.