It has been confirmed that His Imperial Highness, Prince Akishino of Japan and his wife Princess Kiko will be attending the funerary ceremonies of the late King of Thailand, King Bhumibol Adulyadej, due to be held from the 26 October. There they will represent Japan as Thailand and the extended global community pay their last respects to Thailand’s longest reigning monarch, and the world’s longest reigning monarch after The Queen.
The Imperial couple shall leave the Haneda airport in Tokyo and fly directly to Bangkok, where they shall be received by King Vajiralongkorn in preparation for the ceremonies. Arriving in the early hours of the morning, they will attend the funeral that same evening as it’s held by the Grand Palace. After staying in Bangkok overnight, the pair will return to Tokyo the following day, making this visit a rather brief one all in all.
The trip follows on from a more high-profile visit from Their Imperial Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan, who arrived in Thailand in March to pay respects to the late Thai king as he lay in state within the Grand Palace for a year after his passing. They also held the first official meeting between the Japanese Emperor and the newly enthroned King Vajiralongkorn.
Their Imperial Highnesses will also not be the only foreign members of royalty in attendance. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, Queen-Consort to King Willelm-Alexander of the Netherlands, is also confirmed to be attending the rites on behalf of the Dutch Royal Family.
Japan and Thailand have always traditionally maintained close relations with each other, with the first verifiable accounts of their relationship being found in the Red Seal trade between 1604 and 1635. A Japanese trading colony was established in Siam where it traded valuable woods and hides in exchange for silver and artisan goods from Japan. At its peak, the colony represented a Japanese community of 1,500 within Siam, mostly composed of unaffiliated samurai, merchants, and exiled Japanese Roman Catholics. After the Tokugaway Bakufu implemented a policy of isolationism, the colony was abandoned.
After WW2, which saw Thailand operate as a very reluctant ally to the Japanese Empire, the two have since become very close trading partners and frequently cooperate on mutual areas of interest within South East Asia, and the wider Asian community. Japan is, followed by the USA, Thailand’s largest current investor and supplier.