Their Imperial Majesties, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, are to visit the Socialist Republic of Vietnam early this March, reports a source close to the Imperial Household Agency.
Despite numerous invitations from the Vietnamese government over the years, this will be the first such visit by the Emperor of Japan to the country.
The trip in total may well last around five days and feature public events in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi and a possible stay in the city of Hue. Further details are still forthcoming.
Relations between the Japanese and Vietnamese nations have, for the most part, been rather congenial over the past few decades, despite Japan’s occupation of the country during the Second World War. During the Vietnam War, Japan remained neutral for the entirety of the conflict, however, US-owned military bases on Japanese islands were used as staging areas for American forces. Since then the two have enjoyed warm relations. The two also have a shared concern in the rise of Chinese belligerence in recent years, which has seen the Chinese government expanding its claims into the South China Sea and enforcing its claims to disputed islands in the area.
Though His Imperial Majesty has never visited Vietnam himself, there have been numerous state visits from Vietnamese officials and government members.
It will also mark Emperor Akihito’s first overseas visit since he alluded to a desire to formally abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne earlier last year. The Emperor and Empress’s last state visit was to the Philippine Republic last January, where they paid their respects to Filipino soldiers who lost their lives in the Second World War.
Shortly after returning from Vietnam, the Emperor and Empress are expected to head to Tohoku for a memorial service dedicated to the 2011 Great East Japan Tsunami and Earthquake and its victims. Another overseas trip is also being planned for the year by the Imperial Household Agency who intend to send Princess Mako, the Emperor’s 25-year-old granddaughter, to Bhutan.