Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium visits Kyoto University (December 9, 2022)

Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium, Representative of His Majesty the King, heading a Belgian Economic Mission to Japan, visited Kyoto University’s Seifuso Villa on December 9, 2022. The delegation included several Belgian government ministers, royal advisors, and other delegates.

The delegation met with President Nagahiro Minato, Prof. Kyoko Inagaki (executive vice-president for gender equality, international affairs and external affairs), and Prof. Mika Yokoyama (deputy executive vice-president and director of the European Center).

The Seifuso Villa, a historic building owned by Kyoto University, was selected as the venue for the meeting due to its significance in Belgian-Japan relations. The villa was once the residence of Duke Saionji Kinmochi, who served as Prime Minister of Japan at the end of the Meiji Era. Duke Saionji served as the ambassador plenipotentiary of Japan to the Paris Peace Conference after the First World War. During conference, it was decided that the historic library at Louvain University, which had been destroyed by fire during the war, should be reconstructed, and Duke Saionji played a key role in facilitating the donation of a large collection of valuable Japanese books to the new library.

The history of the Seifuso Villa served to remind the Belgian and Japanese delegates of the enduring good relations between the two countries. The Princess and her party also enjoyed a stroll around the villa’s traditional Japanese garden while engaging in friendly conversation with their hosts from the university.