Japan’s Emperor Talks about Forthcoming Trip to Indonesia

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Emperor speaks at a press conference at the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Thursday.

The Emperor attended a press conference Thursday at the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, ahead of visit to Indonesia with the Empress.

The trip will be the Imperial couple’s first international friendship visit since the Emperor ascended the throne.

“I hope the visit will help invigorate exchanges between young people [in both Japan and Indonesia] and that exchanges and friendly relations between the two countries will deepen even further,” the Emperor said.

The Emperor and the Empress are scheduled to visit the country for the first time from Saturday to Friday.

During the press conference, the Emperor reminisced fondly about meeting members of an Indonesian children’s delegation who came to Japan between 1989 and 1997, when he was Crown Prince. The children who visited him at the Crown Prince’s Palace in Tokyo have since grown up and established themselves in such posts as a member of parliament and an assistant professor of a university. “I’m looking forward to seeing them again,” the Emperor said.

The Emperor also touched upon World War II, likely because the former Imperial Japanese Army occupied Indonesia, which was then a Dutch territory. “There were difficult times,” the Emperor said. “It’s important that we never forget the people who died, that we deepen our understanding of the past and that we nurture a love for peace.”

The Emperor also spoke about his impressions of Indonesia, saying, “Islam is the county’s main religion, but people follow various other religions, too, imbuing the country with rich diversity.”

Indonesia has a thriving economy and the largest population among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries. “I believe the country will continue to play an important role in the international community,” the Emperor said.

It will be the first time for the Empress — currently in the process of recuperation — to make an official visit to a Southeast Asian country. In light of the Imperial couple’s travel schedule and event programs, it has been decided that the Emperor will attend some events alone.

“I hope [my wife] will take care of herself in the hot climate and enjoy the visit safely,” the Emperor said.

Press conferences held prior to overseas trips are usually attended by both the Emperor and the Empress, but the Empress opted not to attend on this occasion so as to concentrate on preparations for the trip.