TOKYO -- U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, met with Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko for the first time on Monday morning. The audience, held at the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo, lasted for about 30 minutes.
Trump told the emperor that the Japan-U.S. relationship is better than ever, after Akihito asked the president how he was finding his visit so far, according to the Imperial Household Agency.
"I am happy to hear that," the emperor replied. "Although the two countries fought a war in the past, I think the friendship and U.S. support that followed made Japan what it is today."
The emperor also offered condolences for Sunday's shooting at a church in Texas, which left more than 20 dead. "I imagine the president is grieved at heart about the incident," he said.
Trump said it was indeed tragic, adding that, regrettably, such tragedies can happen anywhere.
The Imperial couple had greeted the president and first lady as they emerged from "Cadillac One," the presidential state car, at about 11 a.m. Trump appeared to pay his respects but avoided bowing deeply in front of the cameras.
U.S. Republicans had criticized Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, for publicly bowing to the emperor in November 2009.
Trump, who arrived in Japan on Sunday, wore a navy suit with a blue tie, while the first lady wore a dark blue one-piece dress. The conversation flowed with the help of interpreters.
This is the second time in two weeks that the emperor has welcomed a foreign leader. Last Tuesday, he received an official visit by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Under Japan's constitution, the emperor is a "symbol of the state and of the unity of the people." He does not have political power.
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