TOKYO – Michael Jackson visited a Tokyo orphanage Sunday during his first round of public appearances since being acquitted of child molestation charges last year.
His visit to Japan is the first leg of an Asian swing that will include stops in Singapore; Shanghai, China; and Hong Kong.
After weaving through dozens of screaming adult fans outside the downtown orphanage, Jackson was ushered into a gymnasium, where more than 160 children between the ages of 3 and 18 and nuns in gray uniforms waited.
"I love you," Jackson told the cheering crowd. Then he whispered to his translator, apparently asking how to say the phrase in Japanese. Then he said: "Aishiteru!"
The pop icon also was scheduled to tour Tokyo and meet with members of the Asian business community during his six-day visit, his publicists said.
Jackson's visit to Tokyo was announced only days before his Friday arrival.
Jackson, 47, has been living in the Middle Eastern kingdom of Bahrain since being acquitted of child molestation in California in June. He has said he plans to return to recording and hopes to release a new album in 2007.