Japanese Crown Prince Akishino, the younger brother of Emperor Naruhito, is on his way to Vietnam to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as Tokyo pushes to deepen ties with developing and emerging nations to tac…
ByMARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press
September 20, 2023, 12:07 AM
TOKYO — Japanese Crown Prince Akishino, the younger brother of Emperor Naruhito, was on his way to Vietnam on Wednesday to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as Tokyo pushes to deepen ties with Southeast Asia and other developing and emerging nations to tackle regional and global challenges.
Akishino, at a news conference last week ahead of the trip, stressed the importance of deepening relations between Japan and Vietnam, noting their long history of cultural and economic exchanges dating back to the 16th century.
“Japan and Vietnam have a very close relationship,” Akishino said. “I hope we can contribute as part of an effort to promote friendly relations between the two countries.” He said it is particularly important for younger people to develop mutual understanding and respect for each other’s cultures through exchanges.
During the Sept. 20-25 trip, Akishino and his wife, Crown Princess Kiko, will visit Hanoi, where they will see the mausoleum of Vietnam’s first president, Ho Chi Minh, and join anniversary events, including attending a new opera, before traveling to Hoi An in central Vietnam.
Akishino said he is especially looking forward to his first visit to Hoi An, an old port city that was home to a “Japantown” for Japanese traders in the first half of the 1600s. He will also visit the nearby My Son Sanctuary, an archeological site with spiritual origins in Indian Hinduism.
It will be Akishino’s third trip to Japan after earlier visits in 1999 and 2012.
Akishino, who specializes in the study of chickens, said there are wild breeds of chickens in various stages of domestication in Southeast Asia, including in Vietnam, and their presence, along with the giant catfish that live in the Mekong River, are part of the reason he is attracted to the region.
The couple’s visit comes three months after his elder brother, Emperor Naruhito, and his wife Masako visited Indonesia, the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year as ASEAN and Japan mark 50 years of friendship. Japan is Indonesia’s largest provider of official development assistance, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry.