President Tommy Remengesau expressed gratitude for the decision by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko to visit the Pacific island nation next month on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
“We are very much honored and grateful for this historical opportunity for the Emperor and the Empress to visit Palau,” Remengesau said in an interview Friday.
The Imperial Couple will make a two-day trip to Palau from April 8. During their visit to the island chain, one of the major battlegrounds of the Pacific War, they will meet Remengesau and visit Japanese and U.S. cenotaphs to pay their respects to the war dead.
Remengesau said while his country looks forward to their visit “as an indication of the strong friendship” between Palau and Japan, it will be an important occasion to remember that any conflict in the world must be resolved peacefully.
“We support Japan’s efforts for trying to resolve world conflicts always in peaceful intent” since the end of the war, Remengesau said.
An estimated 10,000 soldiers from the Imperial Japanese Army died in a fierce battle with the U.S. military on Peleliu, one of the small islands that make up Palau, in 1944. The Japanese government has been collecting the soldiers’ remains since 1953, but those of roughly 2,600 have yet to be found.
The U.S. lost some 2,000 soldiers in the battle.
Ahead of the visit by the Emperor and Empress, Japanese officials and members of the soldiers’ families searched one of the caves used during the Battle of Peleliu and collected remains.
Remengesau pledged to cooperate with Japan on searching for the remains and preserving the cenotaphs.
Remengesau said his country will “try to make the visit as successful as possible,” hoping that the Imperial Couple will see the way of life in Palau and “get a better understanding of our love and respect for Japan.”
On the first day, the Imperial Couple will attend a welcome event sponsored by the Palau government that will include the presidents of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands and their wives. On the second day, they will meet local residents on Peleliu before returning to Japan.
Referring to a recent incident in which a Chinese flag was found mounted on a sunken Japanese supply ship off the coast of Palau, Remengesau said it was an inappropriate act on a protected historical artifact.
Placing artificial objects on wartime ruins is “not in line with the historical value and significance of those artifacts,” he said.