Japan's Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako to attend Queen Elizabeth's funeral

Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will attend the state funeral of late British Queen Elizabeth II. The funeral is scheduled for Monday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu told reporters on Wednesday that the government asked for their attendance after receiving an invitation from Britain's royal family.

The Queen passed away on Thursday. Dignitaries from around the world, including royals and heads of government, are expected to attend her funeral at Westminster Abbey in London.

The Imperial couple will leave Japan on Saturday and return on Tuesday. The visit will be officially decided at a Cabinet meeting on Friday.

It will be the couple's first visit of a foreign country since the Emperor ascended the throne in 2019.

Matsuno said the Imperial family and Britain's royal family have had friendly ties. He said the late Queen, in particular, maintained close relationships with three successive Japanese Emperors -- Emperor Showa, Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Emperor Naruhito.

He added that the Queen had invited the Emperor and Empress to visit Britain after the Emperor's enthronement, although the plan had been put off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio will not attend the funeral.