Japan crown prince says royal visits key to friendly ties

In this photo released by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan, Japan's Crown Prince Naruhito attends a news conference ahead of his visit to France, at his Togu Palace in Tokyo, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. (The Imperial Household Agency of Japan via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito said he will take to heart how his father was mindful of Japan’s history and tried to build closer ties during his upcoming visit to France, expected to be his last foreign trip before becoming emperor.

Naruhito, 58, told a news conference Wednesday that foreign visits, including his Sept. 7-15 trip to France, are a key role for the royal family in fostering friendship.

Emperor Akihito and his wife, Empress Michiko, always paid close attention to the history of the countries they visited and thought deeply about how they could promote mutual understanding and friendship in the future, Naruhito said.

“I’ve closely observed the emperor and the empress’ way, and I will cherish their feelings as I make an effort to promote international goodwill,” Naruhito said.

Naruhito’s 84-year-old father, Akihito, will abdicate on April 30, handing the Chrysanthemum throne to his son the next day.

Akihito is seen as having devoted his life to make amends to victims of World War II, which was fought in his father Hirohito’s name.

The crown prince said he also wants to interact with younger people who will play a key role in deepening understanding and friendship in the future.

The crown prince will join cultural events and visit schools during his upcoming trip, which marks 160 years of Japan-France diplomacy.

“I hope to directly get the feel of how Japanese traditional culture and pop culture are perceived in France,” Naruhito said.

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