Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako arrived in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Saturday for their first state visit since ascending the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019.
The June 17-23 trip to Southeast Asia’s biggest economy includes a meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at a palace south of Jakarta and a visit to a military cemetery honouring Indonesian and Japanese soldiers.
Japan ruled Indonesia for more than three years during and after World War II, capturing it from the Dutch East Indies without a fight and breaking the image of Dutch superiority.
The Japanese surrender at the end of the war paved the way for Indonesian independence in 1945 despite Dutch attempts to wrest back its former colony.
“Since the war, Japan has worked hard to contribute to international peace and prosperity with Asian countries including Indonesia,” Naruhito told reporters Thursday before the trip.
“Based on the countries’ history of diplomacy, I hope this visit will help deepen the friendly relationship between our nations.”
The royal couple will visit a military cemetery in south Jakarta where 28 former Japanese soldiers who stayed and fought for Jakarta in the Indonesian War of Independence between 1945 and 1949 are buried.
They will also pay a visit to a new mass rapid transit (MRT) train depot constructed in the capital with Japan’s help and a Tokyo-funded pump station that prevents flooding.
As well as travelling to the central Javan city of Yogyakarta to meet the provincial monarch, the emperor is scheduled to visit Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple.
The couple have gradually resumed public duties after limiting them during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last year, they made their first trip abroad since the enthronement to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London.
Previous Japanese monarchs visited Indonesia in 1962 and 1991.