• Kyodo

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Crown Prince Naruhito has described official overseas trips by the Imperial family as an important task and opportunity to promote friendly relations with other countries.

Speaking ahead of his first visit to Malaysia on Thursday, the Crown Prince said, “It is a very good opportunity to promote mutual understanding as well as friendship and goodwill.”

He added that such trips were an “extremely important task of the Imperial household.”

“I would like to promote international goodwill, treasuring the thoughts of the Emperor and Empress,” the 57-year-old said at his residence at Togu Palace.

He did not make any remarks on Emperor Akihito’s envisioned abdication, which was first flagged during a televised address to the nation last August.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is seeking to change the law to enable the Emperor to relinquish the throne to the Crown Prince.

It is the Crown Prince’s first trip overseas since the televised address.

He is scheduled to leave Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Thursday by government plane to Kuala Lumpur, where he will celebrate the 60th anniversary of formal diplomatic ties between Japan and Malaysia.

During his five-day stay, the Crown Prince is scheduled to attend a banquet hosted by Malaysian King Sultan Muhammad V and meet with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as well as Japanese residents in the nation.

The Southeast Asian country invited the Crown Prince and his wife, Crown Princess Masako, but she will not accompany her husband this time.

The princess has been receiving treatment for a stress-induced illness. The Imperial Household Agency said it decided she should skip the trip considering the burden on her from other events she is scheduled to attend in the coming weeks, including a spring garden party hosted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on April 20.

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