Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have left for a week-long visit to Vietnam and Thailand. They left Haneda Airport on Tuesday morning for Hanoy, Vietnam’s capital.
Before departing, the Emperor told The Japan Times: “In our relations with Vietnam, we welcomed as state guests to Japan His Excellency President Nguyen Minh Triet in 2007 and His Excellency President Truong Tan Sang in 2014, and we have been kindly offered invitations to visit Vietnam.
“It is our hope that our visit to Vietnam will contribute to the further development of the mutual understanding and friendly relations between our two countries.”
On Wednesday, the couple attended a welcoming ceremony where they met Vietnamese President, Trần Đại Quang and National Assembly of Vietnam Chair, Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân. The Emperor was scheduled to address a banquet sponsored by the President later that day. And on Friday afternoon, the royal couple will travel to Hue, in central Vietnam after they meet with the country’s Communist Party General Secretary, Nguyễn Phú Trong.
Many Japanese companies have built factories in Vietnam, and Vietnam has the largest number of foreign students in Japan.
Also while there, the Emperor and Empress will meet with the surviving widows and children of Japanese soldiers who lived in Vietnam after the end of World War II. They were forced to flee in 1954 when Communists took over the north.
This is the first visit to the Southeast Asian country for Their Imperial Majesties, and it signifies the growing ties between the two Asian countries. This is the first trip for the Emperor since he released a video last August expressing his wishes to abdicate.
Sunday and Monday will see them take a private visit to Thailand. While in Bangkok, they will pay their private respects to Thailand’s former monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away in October. They will honour him by laying flowers at his altar at the Grand Palace. The Emperor mentioned that he and his wife enjoyed a longterm relationship with the former Thai king which lasted over fifty years.
After paying their respects to their friend and former monarch, they will travel by car to the Office of the Principal Private Secretary of His Majesty. There, they will sign a book of condolence. They will then head to the Dusit Palace to meet with His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn. Come Monday, they will take a private jet back to Japan.