Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will be in Thailand on Sunday and Monday. It will be their first visit to the nation in 10 years, mainly to pay their last respects to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Their visit to Bangkok makes this a good time to look back on Thai-Japanese relations amid Thailand's deepening political crisis and the shifting geopolitical landscape of Southeast Asia.

Since the coup of 2014, Japan has served as a source of legitimacy for the Thai military regime. Although Japan has voiced concern about the grave situation in Thailand, it has never imposed official sanctions against the junta. Bilateral ties have remained strong. Japan has been willing to adapt to the changing political climate in Thailand while maintaining its position in the country. This has occurred at the same time as other actors, particularly China, have begun to seriously exert influence in Thailand.