In rare step, Japan's Emperor to attend foreign state funeral

Japan's Imperial Household Agency says Emperor Naruhito will become the second Japanese Emperor to attend a funeral for a foreign royal family member or head of state, when he takes part in the ceremony for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II next week.

The agency says Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko attended the state funeral for Belgium's King Baudouin in 1993. They were the Emperor and Empress at that time.

The Japanese Imperial family and the British royal family have maintained close ties. Emperor Emeritus Akihito attended the coronation ceremony for Queen Elizabeth in 1953 on behalf of Emperor Showa. He was the Crown Prince at the time.

Emperor Naruhito studied at the University of Oxford when he was a graduate school student. He subsequently made three official visits to Britain and had dinner with Queen Elizabeth.