Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko began a four-day visit to Okinawa on Saturday for a series of engagements, their first trip to the prefecture in eight years, the Imperial Household Agency said.
After arriving in Naha, the Imperial Couple headed to Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, where they met with surviving members of the Shiraume student nurse corps mobilized for the 1945 Battle of Okinawa and laid flowers for the war dead. They will attend a national convention on marine resources in Itoman on Sunday, and will also release shellfish and coral larvae into the ocean.
On Monday, the Emperor and Empress will visit the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, which opened in Onna in September, and on the following day they will travel to Kume Island to view the Okinawa Prefectural Deep Sea Water Research Center. They will return to Tokyo on Tuesday evening.
The trip is the Imperial Couple’s ninth to Okinawa, dating back to the time when they were the Crown Prince and Crown Princess.