March 7, 2017 – Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko returned to Japan last night, ending their weeklong trip to Vietnam and Thailand to promote goodwill and mourn the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The imperial couple’s first trip to Vietnam as state guests, which began on Feb. 28, was also aimed at soothing some of the wounds from World War II by meeting with Vietnamese family members of Japanese soldiers deployed in the region.
The meeting gave the couple the chance to speak with the widows and descendants who faced discrimination and other hardships after the Japanese soldiers returned home without them.
In the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, the emperor and the empress met with the Southeast Asian country’s political leaders, including de facto leader Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the country’s Communist Party.
Moving to the ancient capital of Hue on Friday, they visited the memorial to Phan Boi Chau, an independence movement leader in the early 1900s when Vietnam was under French occupation.
In Bangkok on Sunday, the couple paid their respects to the former Thai king, who passed away last October, and met with current King Maha Vajiralongkorn. The royal families of Japan and Thailand have traditionally maintained close relations.