The emperor of Japan is visiting the remote Pacific island of Palau, to pray for thousands of Japanese and American soldiers who died during the World War II battle of Pelelilu.
Emperor Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko arrived by helicopter today on Pelelilu island in Palau, a western Pacific nation ruled by Japan for about 30 years after World War I.
The battle of Pelelilu, which started in September 1944, left about 10,000 Japanese and 1,700 Americans dead. The U.S. took control three months later.
The emperor’s visit highlights the slow-moving search for the remains of missing Japanese soldiers. Only half of the 2.4 million Japanese who died overseas have been recovered.
Akihito’s trip, in the 70th anniversary year of the war’s end, is the latest leg of a tour that started with a 1994 visit to Iwo Jima, where he also prayed for Japanese and U.S. war-dead.
He visited Saipan, another World War II battlefield in the Pacific, in 2005, marking the 60th anniversary.