• Kyodo

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Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will go to the West Pacific island nation of Palau on April 8 for a two-day official visit to commemorate the souls of the war dead and pray for peace to mark 70 years since the end of World War II, the government announced Friday.

The Emperor and Empress are likely to visit Peleliu Island, where around 10,000 Japanese soldiers died in a fierce battle, and pay their respects at a memorial built by the Japanese government.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the Imperial Couple are scheduled to leave Tokyo for Palau on a chartered flight on the morning of April 8 and attend a welcoming event later that day on Koror Island.

They are expected to travel to Peleliu, possibly aboard a Japan Coast Guard helicopter, for a remembrance ceremony on April 9 before returning to Japan later that day.

The governments of Japan and Palau had been arranging the visit since September, following a proposal by Palau President Tommy Remengesau in August.

Remengesau directly invited the Emperor and Empress when he visited Japan in December.

Japan controlled Palau for around 30 years until 1945, having been awarded several territories in Micronesia as part of a League of Nations mandate following Germany’s defeat in World War I.

A proposed Imperial visit to Palau 10 years ago was scrapped because the islands lacked a runway usable by Japanese government aircraft. This visit will use smaller civilian aircraft.

The Emperor and Empress last traveled overseas to commemorate the war dead with a visit to Saipan in 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the war.

In the run-up to the 70th anniversary, the Imperial Couple visited Okinawa, Nagasaki and Hiroshima last year. To mark the 50th anniversary in 1995, they visited those prefectures and a Tokyo memorial.

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