“We Must Never Forget” Palau Visit Vol.2

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On 9th April, HIM Emperor Akihito and HIM Empress Michiko arrived at Peleliu Island of Republic of Palau.
Their Majesties offered flowers to the World War II memorial in Peleliu Peace Memorial Park.

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Their Majesties also offered flowers to the memorial for US victims.

Photo from Nikkei, Sports Hochi and Asahi

[Article] Emperor, empress remember war dead on Palau’s Peleliu Island

Text from Mainichi Daily News

PELELIU, Palau (Kyodo) — The Japanese imperial couple commemorated Thursday those who lost their lives during World War II by visiting monuments dedicated to Japanese and U.S. soldiers on Peleliu Island, part of the west Pacific nation of Palau.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are in Palau on their second overseas trip to pay tribute to the war dead and pray for peace, with this year marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. They visited Saipan in 2005 for the same purpose.

Some 16,000 Japanese soldiers died in Palau in fighting against U.S. forces who landed on Peleliu and nearby Angaur Island in September 1944. Nearly 2,000 U.S. troops also died.

On Peleliu Island alone, around 10,000 Japanese troops and 1,600 U.S. soldiers were killed in a fierce battle.

Traveling to the island by helicopter from the Japan Coast Guard patrol ship Akitsushima, the imperial couple, who arrived in Palau the previous day on a two-day visit, laid white chrysanthemum flowers and bowed deeply at the Monument of the War Dead in the Western Pacific, offering silent prayers.

They also made a bow toward Angaur Island, with former Japanese soldiers who survived the fighting and families of the war dead observing.

The imperial couple gave them words of encouragement such as, “I hope you are well. Everyone, take care of yourself.”

Among them, Kyoko Tanaka, a 74-year-old resident of northeastern Japan’s Aomori Prefecture, dangled from her neck a photo of her father who died in the Battle of Peleliu. The empress asked her where that photo was taken, according to Tanaka.

“I am pleased that the battle (in Peleliu) became widely known to the public thanks to the visit by the emperor and the empress,” said Kiyokazu Tsuchida, 95, a former Japanese seaman who survived the fierce battle on the island and is on his 14th trip to Palau to mourn for his comrades.

The Japanese government erected the monument in 1985 at the southern tip of Peleliu, which commands a view of Angaur Island.

The imperial couple also laid a wreath and offered silent prayers at a separate monument for the 81st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army on the island, which is located some 3,000 kilometers south of Tokyo.

They were then briefed about the nearby Orange Beach, where the U.S. military landed and the fighting began.

Palauan President Tommy Remengesau, Micronesian President Emanuel Mori and Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak, as well as their wives, accompanied the imperial couple.

The island nations were under Japanese rule for around 30 years until the end of the war in 1945. The imperial couple were to visit the countries in 2005, the 60th anniversary of the end of the war, but the plan was aborted due to transportation constraints.

The emperor and empress met with local islanders including Japanese-Palauans and those who speak Japanese, before wrapping up their visit and flying back to Japan from the international airport on Palau’s main island later in the day.

“Although there was a war (in the past), Peleliu in peace time is a beautiful place,” the emperor was quoted as saying.

In a rare move, they spent Wednesday night on the 6,500-ton Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel for the purpose of reducing the burden on the couple, both in their 80s, as the vessel carried a helicopter that took them directly to Peleliu from Koror, the central city of the island nation, and shortened transportation time.

Last month the Japanese government found human bones that appear to be the remains of six soldiers in a cave on Peleliu Island. But the remains of roughly 2,600 Japanese soldiers have yet to be recovered.

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Their Majesties arrived at Tokyo International Airport late at night on 9th April.

Photo from Mainichi

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