Japan's Emperor, Empress to meet wives, children of Japanese WWII soldiers in Hanoi

By VnExpress   February 12, 2017 | 12:35 am PT
Japan's Emperor, Empress to meet wives, children of Japanese WWII soldiers in Hanoi
Japan's Emperor Akihito (L), flanked by Empress Michiko, waves to well-wishers in Japan in July 2016. Photo by Reuters
Hundreds of Japanese soldiers left Vietnam in 1954 without permission to bring their families along.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will meet with the Vietnamese wives and children of Japanese Imperial Soldiers during their first Vietnam visit this March.

The Japanese government announced the meeting would take place in Hanoi on March 2 as part of a weeklong international goodwill tour of the Imperial Couple.

The Imperial Household Agency estimates that Japanese soldiers left several hundred wives and children behind in Vietnam, the Japan Times reported.

The families belonged to roughly 600 Japanese soldiers who had stayed after Japan’s surrender in August 1945. The contingent of soldiers joined the Vietnamese in fighting French colonial rule between 1946 and 1954; many died from combat injuries or illness.

After Vietnam was split into north and south in 1954, most of the soldiers returned to Japan, which prohibited them from bringing the families they had built in Vietnam.

The upcoming meetings are said to reflect the 83-year-old Emperor’s hope for peace.

The Imperial Couple plan to meet with Vietnam's president on March 1 before visiting the former citadel of Hue on March 3 where they will meet with members of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and other Japanese expatriates.

They will leave Hue for Bangkok on March 5 to meet with Thailand’s new king and pay their respects to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Akihito is the 125th emperor in his line. He succeeded his father in 1989. His wife is 82.

Last August, the long-reigning emperor indicated his intention to step down - a plan that received strong support from the Japanese public.

Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, dropped into Vietnam for a two-day visit last month as part of an Asia-Pacific tour designed to strengthen cooperation in the region. Abe's recent visit marked his third trip to Vietnam.

Japan is one of Vietnam’s top donors and development partners. It has provided a combined $27.6 billion worth of official development assistance since 1992, nearly a third of all foreign aid to Vietnam.

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> Japan emperor, empress to visit Vietnam in 2017: report

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