Japan's Imperial Couple to make first visit to Vietnam


Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will make a weeklong trip from Feb. 28 to Vietnam, their first visit to the Southeast Asian country, as well as Thailand, the government said Friday.

The Emperor and Empress aim to promote international goodwill in their visit to Vietnam, after which they will stop in Thailand to pay their respects to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died last October, the government said.

It will be their first overseas trip since the 83-year-old Emperor indicated in a video message broadcast in August that his age could one day prevent him from fulfilling his public duties.

In Vietnam, plans are being considered for the Imperial Couple to meet with top officials from the government and the ruling Communist Party, and lay flowers in Hanoi at the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the country’s first president who is regarded as its founding father.

In Thailand, the Emperor and the Empress, 82, may meet Thailand’s new King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

The Imperial Couple’s friendship with Thailand’s King Bhumibol spanned more than half a century. He visited Japan in 1963 and met the Emperor’s father, Emperor Hirohito, who is posthumously known as Emperor Showa.

The couple will leave Tokyo for Hanoi on Feb. 28. Once there, the Emperor and Empress will attend events including a banquet, before visiting the ancient city of Hue in central Vietnam, the Imperial Household Agency said.

They will then head to Bangkok on March 5, and return home the next day, the agency said.

The forthcoming trip would be the first overseas trip for the Imperial Couple since January last year when they traveled to the Philippines to remember those who died in fighting there in World War II.

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