HONOLULU (AP) Amid a rain shower, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko carried wishes of peace with them Wednesday as they honored U.S. war dead.
The Emperor, aided by a U.S. Marine, set a wreath on a stand at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The Empress gently adjusted the flowers before she stepped back and both of them bowed.
The couple frequently visit national cemeteries during their overseas travels. They paid their respects at the Honolulu cemetery — which is located within the crater of an extinct volcano and is known as the Punchbowl — during their last trip to Hawaii in 1994.
The Emperor grew up during World War II and witnessed Japan’s efforts to rebuild after the war.
“He feels very strongly that peace has to be maintained, that such a mistake which led Japan to the war and devastation should never be repeated,” said his spokesman, Sadaaki Numata. “As he lay the wreath at the Punchbowl, I have no doubt that these were the thoughts that were occurring in his mind.”
Rain began falling while a marine band played the Japanese and U.S. national anthems, prompting staff to rush out with large black umbrellas to shelter the Imperial Couple. They needed the cover the remainder of their time at the cemetery as the drizzle turned into a shower.
Local dignitaries who attended the ceremony lacked umbrellas and got soaked while they waited to greet the couple.