Indonesia’s Widodo hosts Japanese Emperor

Following his accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne in 2019, the Japanese Emperor Naruhito met Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday during his first state visit.

The largest economy in Southeast Asia hosted Naruhito and Empress Masako from June 17–23 as a result of an invitation Widodo extended to the emperor during a visit to Tokyo last year.

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The royal couple arrived at a presidential residence south of Jakarta flanked by a marching band playing the Japanese national song and a large crowd of well-wishers yelling “Welcome to Indonesia!”

“The visit of the Emperor and Empress to Indonesia has further strengthened the friendship between our people,” Widodo told reporters before a formal lunch meeting.

“Such a solid foundation is necessary for the development of a strategic partnership between our two countries, especially in the economic field.”

Together with the royal pair, Widodo and the first lady Iriana, who goes by one name like many Indonesians, strolled through the palace gardens and participated in a welcoming tree-planting ceremony.

In recent years, Tokyo and Jakarta have taken steps to strengthen their ties. Japanese officials have cited the significance of Indonesia’s developing economy and its strategic location near major shipping lanes.

From 1942 until 1945, Japan dominated Indonesia for more than three years. After Tokyo’s capitulation in World War II, Indonesian independence and an armed struggle against Dutch control ensued.

The royal couple will pay a visit to a Jakarta military cemetery on Tuesday to see the graves of 28 former Japanese soldiers who served in Indonesia during the Indonesian War of Independence (1945–1949).

They will also go to a new Jakarta MRT train depot that was constructed with Japanese assistance and a Tokyo-funded pumping facility that prevents floods.

Naruhito will also visit Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world, and the city of Yogyakarta in central Java to meet the provincial emperor.

After restricting them during the Covid-19 epidemic, the Japanese royal couple has gradually resumed their public duties.

They traveled abroad for the first time since the enthronement to London last year to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s death.

In 1962 and 1991, the emperors of Japan have traveled to Indonesia.

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