Marking the 80th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Canada and Japan, the Emperor and Empress of Japan continued their two-week tour of Canada in Ottawa yesterday with a visit to the Governor General’s residence and to Carleton University.

The visit by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko is the first-ever Japanese Imperial visit in Canadian history, said Jacob Kovalio, professor of Japanese and Asian studies at Carleton. The Emperor was here in 1953, as a 19-year-old crown prince, he said.

While Kovalio said the relationship between Canada and Japan is already a good one, the visit contributes to that relationship economically, culturally and socially.

“It improves on what exists,” said Kovalio, who has authored books on Japan. “The visit marks and celebrates the past and acts as a springboard, or a facilitator for an even closer and more dynamic relationship.”

The royal couple, who met Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean at her residence in the morning, spent several hours meeting with faculty and students at Carleton University yesterday.

“They are taking quite a great deal of time — almost two weeks across Canada, said Thomas Garvey, director of the school of industrial design at Carleton whose area of research is Japanese design and architecture.

“We have students here who are studying Japanese and foreign affairs and it’s amazing how much time they took to speak to individual students.

“They’ve been very generous with their time.”

Garvey, who spoke with the Emperor for a few minutes in Japanese, said there are “a lot of lessons to be learned from Japanese architecture and culture and design.”

Students also got to speak with the royal couple. Yahor Kazlou, a fourth-year finance major at?Carleton with a minor in Japanese language, felt “really honoured to be chosen.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” said the 22-year-old.

International affairs masters student Lisa Mallin agreed.

“I had a hard time sleeping last night,” she said. “I was very excited.”