According to the official announcement from the Japanese Embassy in Vietnam, the schedule of Emperor Akihato’s and Empress Michiko's visit was decided at a cabinet meeting on February 20th. Accordingly, the Emperor and Empress will leave Tokyo, starting their visit to Vietnam from February 28th, and come back to Japan by March 6th.
An official source has affirmed that many Vietnam leaders during their visits to Japan has invited Emperor Akihito (83 years old) and Empress Michiko (82 years old) to visit Vietnam.
After careful consideration on the basis of the Japan-Vietnam friendship, the Japanese government has wished that the Emperor and Empress would make an official visit to Vietnam. On the way returning home, the Emperor and Empress will stop in Thailand to pay their respect to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away in October last year.
Japan’s Emperor and Empress are expected to have meetings with Vietnamese leaders, and participate in several social events with Vietnamese citizens, Vietnamese students, artists, researchers and those who used to study in Japan. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will also join talks with Japanese volunteers and citizens who are living, studying and working in Vietnam, and enjoy some historical, cultural and intangible heritages of Vietnam, which have been recognized by UNESCO.
Since taking the throne in 1986, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have made official visits to 26 countries out of 57 countries they have arrived. In Southeast Asia, the Emperor and Empress have visited Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia (1991), Singapore (2006) and the Philippines (2016).
According to Japanese sources, Emperor Akihito once visited Vietnam in early 1970 when he was still the crown prince.
At that time, Emperor Akihito was doing his doctoral thesis on fish studies in Southern Vietnam. He discovered a new type of white goby fish in the Can Tho river and sent the specimen of this fish to the Zoology Museum of the Hanoi National University (which is now the Biology Museum of the Natural Sciences University) in 1976.
In 2012, during a visit to Vietnam, Japan's Prince Akishino also presented to the Biology Museum a specimen of the Japanese talk chicken. These 2 specimens are still preserved at the museum, and Japan’s Emperor with the Empress will visit the Biology Museum during their time in Hanoi.
Japan's Emperor and Empress visit Vietnam in a context when the bilateral relations of Vietnam and Japan have seen many positive developments. The visit has drawn much attention from both countries and the international public opinion. The visit is expected to enhance mutual understanding, promote the friendship between two countries, and open up a new page in the history of Vietnam - Japan relations.
Emperor Akihito ascended the throne on January 7th 1989, and became the 125th king of Japan after Emperor Hirohito passed away. The emperor's enthronement ceremony was officially held on November 12th 1990 at the Royal Palace with the participation of representatives from 158 countries.
As stated in the Japanese Constitution, the Emperor is "the symbol of the State and the unity of the people", this position is based on "the will of all people, who have the true supreme power". With a sense of responsibility and kindness to people, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko have made the Royal Family become closer to the people.
The Emperor and Empress organize hundreds ceremonies and tea parties throughout the year. The Emperor and Empress have visited all 47 provinces, cities and remote islands of Japan, as well as 400 social welfare facilities for children, elderly and disabled people across the country.