Even 14 years later, the trip by Emperor Emeritus Akihito and Empress Emerita Michiko to Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands remains one of the Pacific island's most memorable occasions.

News about the emperor's April 30 abdication stirred memories among some residents of the then-imperial couple's June 27-28 visit in 2005 to the island to honor those who died in World War II.

Saipan, the principal island of the 14 comprising the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, a self-governing U.S. territory, was a major battlefield in 1944.