Tokyo is making final arrangements with Washington for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko to visit Saipan, possibly around June 27, government sources said Thursday.
The visit, which the couple has expressed a strong desire to make, would be the first by any Imperial family member in the postwar era to a Pacific island once occupied by the Japanese.
Saipan was a site of fierce fighting between Japan and the Allied forces during World War II, resulting in large casualties on both sides.
The sources said the Emperor and Empress could stay one or two nights on Saipan.
The itinerary being considered includes visits to Banzai Cliff, where Japanese soldiers and civilians jumped to their deaths to avoid surrendering to U.S. forces, and to a memorial for U.S. soldiers.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the war.
The government had considered in February and March last year for the Emperor and Empress to visit Saipan during a planned trip to Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. But officials gave up on the plan due to transportation problems.
U.S. forces landed on Saipan in June 1944 and fought a bitter battle with Japan, which held the island at the time. About 40,000 Japanese troops and many civilians died, while more than 10,000 U.S. soldiers were killed.
After the fall of Saipan, the U.S. military used the island as a base to launch attacks on Japan’s main islands.
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