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Japan Emperor, Empress Travel to Indonesia for 1st Goodwill Visit

Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako board a plane at Haneda airport bound for Indonesia, in Tokyo on June 17, 2023. (Photo by Yuichi YAMAZAKI / AFP)

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako left for Indonesia on Saturday for their first official goodwill visit since the emperor’s ascension to the throne in 2019.

Their stay through Friday includes a luncheon with President Joko Widodo and a visit to a cemetery honoring Indonesian independence fighters.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako board a government jet at Tokyo’s Haneda airport to fly to Indonesia on June 17, 2023. (Kyodo)

The visit is the second overseas trip for the emperor and empress since his ascension, their first being to attend the funeral of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.

It comes as Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, chaired this year by Indonesia, mark their 50th anniversary of friendly ties.

Ahead of the trip, the emperor expressed hope that his visit will “further deepen” the countries’ relationship, which he said went through a “difficult period,” a reference to Japan’s occupation of Indonesia during World War II.

“It is important to remember those who lost their lives, deepen an understanding of past history and cultivate love for peace,” he told a press conference Thursday in Tokyo.

The emperor said he hopes the visit spurs greater engagement among young Indonesians and Japanese, mentioning that he and his wife looked forward to learning more about the country.

The emperor, who received an invitation from Widodo in August 2019, said his wife, who has long battled a stress-induced illness, will not join every event with him due to her health.

The emperor and the empress are slated to meet the president and his wife on Monday and have a luncheon at the palace in Bogor, near Jakarta.

They are expected to offer flowers the following day at the Kalibata Heroes’ Cemetery, which honors those who fought for Indonesia’s independence.

Among those buried are former Japanese soldiers who stayed in Indonesia after the end of Japanese occupation and joined the fight for independence from the Dutch Empire.

From Wednesday, the emperor is scheduled to travel alone to Yogyakarta, an ancient city in central Java, to attend a dinner hosted by the governor of the special province in which it is located.

The agenda also includes visits to a high-speed railway constructed with Japan’s economic assistance and a university engaging in Japanese-language education, as well as a meeting with Japanese residents of Indonesia.

Source: Kyodo News