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Japan: Japanese royals pay respects to King Bhumibol


Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Sunday paid their respects to the memory of King Bhumibol Adulyadej during the last leg of a week-long trip that as well took them to Vietnam.

Next wrapping up their trip to Vietnam, the emperor and empress flew to Thailand, where the royal family has traditionally maintained close relations with the Japanese imperial family.

The imperial couple laid flowers on the altar of King Bhumibol at the Grand Palace in Bangkok and signed a condolence book. Their friendship with the King, who passed away last October, spanned additional than half a century.

The Japanese royals were granted an audience with His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun. Details of the conference were not instantly available.

Both the emperor and empress were dressed in black.

Hatsuhisa Takashima, press secretary to Emperor Akihito, told reporters the Japanese royal couple decided to visit Thailand next a six-day visit to Vietnam because it was "their last occasion to meet with the late king and bid farewell to him".

He said the pair bowed "deeply" in front of King Bhumibol's coffin as a mark of respect.

King Bhumibol visited Japan in 1963 and met the emperor's father, Emperor Hirohito. The current emperor and empress, again the crown prince and crown princess, visited Thailand the following year.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited Thailand in 1991 in their initial overseas trip next his enthronement. In 2006, they as well attended a ceremony in Bangkok to celebrate the 60th anniversary of King Bhumibol's accession.

The emperor and empress are scheduled to return home Monday.

Below: Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko place a wreath to mourn for the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Dusit Maha Prasat Throne hall inside the Grand Palace.

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