Yesterday afternoon Emperor Akihito and his wife, the Empress Michiko, arrived on Saipan, in a visit to honor the island’s war dead. They will visit Banzai Cliff, where hundreds of Japanese soldiers and civilians jumped to their deaths rather than surrender, shouting “Banzai” – long life, for the Emperor’s father Hirohito.
This visit to mark the 60th anniversary of the war is the first time the imperial couple have gone outside Japan to visit a World War II battlefield. The visit has attracted international attention, especially as tensions are high in China and South Korea over Japan’s wartime history.
Nevertheless, this is a big event for Saipan, with hopes high that this will spur further tourism to the island.