HANOI – Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attended a welcome ceremony at Vietnam’s Presidential Palace in Hanoi on Wednesday, the second day of the Imperial Couple’s first visit to the country.
In the palace’s front garden, Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang welcomed the couple, who are visiting at his invitation as state guests to promote goodwill.
The Imperial Couple later offered flowers at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in the capital.
Later in the day, they were scheduled to meet with Vietnam’s National Assembly Chair Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan and attend a banquet hosted by the Vietnamese presidential couple at the palace, where Emperor Akihito was due to deliver a speech.
The Emperor and Empress are scheduled to meet Vietnamese wives of former Japanese soldiers on Thursday, hoping to soothe some of the wounds from World War II.
Of the Japanese troops deployed to French Indochina during the war, an estimated 600 remained in what is now Vietnam after Japan’s surrender in August 1945. They joined Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh’s independence group, the Viet Minh.
They conducted military training for the Viet Minh and fought against France’s attempted recolonization in the First Indochina War between 1946 and 1954. Half are believed to have died of illness or from violence in the war.
Many of the soldiers married local women and had children. After the end of the First Indochina War, they returned home without being able to bring their Vietnamese families.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5