Emperor, Empress Pin Hopes on Youth to Help Deepen Japan-Indonesia Ties

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Emperor and Emperess disembark from a government plane at Haneda Airport on Friday evening following their visit to Indonesia.

The Emperor and Empress said they felt the “potential in the younger generation” to promote friendly ties between Japan and Indonesia during their first official goodwill overseas trip since the Emperor’s enthronement.

The Imperial couple arrived in Indonesia on June 17 and returned to Japan on Friday evening.

In a statement released Friday night, the Imperial couple said, “We hope the younger generation will play a big role in deepening mutual understanding, and in further developing friendship and cooperation between the two countries.”

During the trip, the Emperor and Empress met with Indonesian students interested in Japan and young Japanese citizens living in the country.

While the trip focused on exchanges with local people, the couple also heard from Japanese descendants about the hardship experienced by Japanese soldiers who remained in Indonesia after World War II and fought in the country’s war of independence against the Netherlands.

“The Emperor and Empress feel they must ensure the history is passed down,” said Junichi Ihara, head of the Imperial Household Agency’s Board of the Ceremonies who accompanied the Imperial couple.

The Empress, who participated in her first goodwill overseas trip in 21 years, was able to take part in more events than expected. The agency had initially planned to limit her itinerary to official state events for health reasons, but the Empress also made unscheduled visits to a university and high school.

During the trip, the Emperor offered words of encouragement to Indonesians working on problems related to water management, a subject in which he is interested.

On Friday, Indonesian Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, who showed the Emperor around an erosion control facility on Java Island, expressed hope that the Emperor’s international activities in the field would continue.

“The Emperor’s determination to link his expertise to international goodwill activities was strongly felt,” the minister said. “With his deep knowledge, Japanese water management technology will spread to other countries around the world.”

The first overseas goodwill trip of the Reiwa era has planted seeds of future friendships.