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Japanese emperor stresses cooperation with developing countries is key to tackling climate challenges

Cooperation with developing countries is key to dealing with climate change and other global challenges, Japanese Emperor Naruhito said Thursday ahead of a visit to Indonesia, his first official friendship trip abroad since ascending the Chrysanthemum Throne four years ago.

Naruhito begins the weeklong trip on Saturday with his wife, Empress Masako, a former diplomat.

“Cooperation with emerging and developing countries is becoming increasingly important in order to tackle global issues such as climate change, energy and food,” Naruhito said at a news conference at the Imperial Palace. “I hope our friendship and mutual understanding will further deepen through exchanges and cooperation between the peoples of the two countries.”

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Japanese Emperor Naruhito

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito attends a press conference on June 15, 2023. Naruhito said that cooperation with developing countries is key to tackling global issues.  (Yuichi Yamazaki/Pool Photo via AP)

The trip comes as Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations mark 50 years of friendship this year, when Indonesia is serving as ASEAN’s chair. Japan is increasingly seeking to deepen its ties with developing nations in tackling regional and global challenges. Japan is Indonesia’s largest provider of official development assistance, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry.

Naruhito, 63, is Japan’s first emperor born after World War II, which was fought in the name of his grandfather, Emperor Hirohito.

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Japan occupied Indonesia, a former Dutch colony called the Dutch East Indies, from 1942 until Tokyo surrendered in August 1945.

“There was a difficult time in our relations with Indonesia,” Naruhito said. “I believe it is important to not forget those who lost their lives, to deepen our understanding of history and to nurture love of peace.”

Naruhito noted hearing from his parents, Emperor Emeritus Akihito and his wife Michiko, about their experiences during the war and expressed his determination to continue their dedication to peace and to efforts to atone for the pain of those who suffered during the war.

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