TOKYO – Michael Jackson greeted thousands of U.S. troops and their family members at a U.S. Army base south of Tokyo Saturday, taking a break from days of parties with die-hard fans and well-heeled business people.
About 3,000 troops and their family members gathered at a fitness center at Camp Zama and Jackson walked around shaking hands and exchanging words to thank them for their service.
"Those of you in here today are some of the most special people in the world." Jackson said to the crowd, reading from a statement. "It is because of you in here today, and others who so valiantly have given their lives to protect us, that we enjoy our freedom."
He also attended a ceremony at the camp held for a member of the army being promoted and put a pin on his uniform.
Jackson, 48, arrived in Japan last Sunday for his second trip in less than a year to attend parties including an extravagant gala held Thursday in Tokyo.
The reclusive pop icon was the guest of honor at the lavish party aimed at a well-heeled business crowd — though the roughly 400 people who showed up were mainly die-hard fans, and more than 100 orphans and handicapped children who were invited for free.
The paying guests each laid down $3,500 for tickets, which included a buffet dinner, a show featuring several Japanese Michael Jackson impersonators and a chance to meet, greet and take photos with the Gloved One.
On Friday, he made an appearance at another party for his less affluent fans. More than 1,000 people crowded a popular night club.
He did not perform at either party.
Jackson, one of the best-selling artists of all time, has lived abroad since his 2005 acquittal on child molestation charges, forsaking his Neverland Ranch in California for residences in Bahrain, France, and a castle in Ireland.
Jackson will spend another three or four days in Tokyo.