26 Apr 2005

Japanese emperor to visit Saipan in June

4:17 pm on 26 April 2005

The Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will visit Saipan in June.

The visit will be the first by any imperial family member in the postwar era to any of the Pacific islands that Japan once occupied.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, this will be the first time a Japanese emperor has made an overseas trip for the sole purpose of paying homage to the souls of the war dead.

US forces landed on Saipan in June 1944 and fought a bitter battle with Japan, which held the island at the time.

About 43,000 Japanese troops and 12,000 civilians died, while about 5,000 US soldiers were killed.

The royals will leave Tokyo on June the 27th and return home from the US territory the following day.